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People Are Awesome: Nine-Year-Old's Lemonade Stand Raises Thousands for Detroit

He thought his city would "cease to exist, like, Pluto" so he set up a fundraiser on his stoop.

Nine-year-old Joshua Smith from Detroit's west side was confused when his mother tried to explain why he couldn't walk down the street to play in his neighborhood park. The city only has enough money to cut the grass twice a year and there's just too much trash down there, she told him.

She described the budget crisis in the city and he says he grew "troubled." He thought that his hometown would "be like Pluto, the planet, like, it wouldn't exist anymore."

So he did what any enterprising city kid does in the summer: he set up a lemonade stand. But this wasn't to plump up his piggy bank. His goal was to raise money for the city's Parks and Recreation Department so he and his buddies could again run around the Zussman Playground after it was cleared of debris.

In a matter of days, he raised well over $3,000, received the praise of the mayor, and even won a scholarship towards college. His father, a math teacher, has been amazed at the response.

I’m very proud of him. It’s not often that someone sees a small problem and wants to do anything about it, much less a big problem—the city’s broke. We have adults who understand some of the complexities of that and come away jaded and negative.


Joshua, we applaud your efforts to save your local park from the rushing tide of blight.

Image via Detroit Free Press

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