“Brigantine’s Own” Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Story by Julie Mandes; Exhausted, Proud, Happy Mom & Community Member.

After hearing about Alex’s Lemonade Stand through Alex’s Story which I told them after hearing it at Smithville School, my then 10-year-old twins, Joseph and Michael wanted to help. Michael asked if we could run a stand weekly to help the cause. We did so that year. We have continued our efforts ever since, although the stand format has developed over the years.

The first summer, our family ran a weekly stand on the corner of 9th Street South and Ocean Avenue and also ran our first Family Fun Day Stand.  The boys were noted for their volunteerism by Mayor Guenther, and they were recognized for the great number of hours they put into volunteering, by earning the Gold Presidential Award for Volunteerism at the age of 10; after Donna Andros, Girl Scout Leader, informed our family and they the school about the availability of such an award and the fact that the boys easily qualified for it already, even though it is a challenging award to get.

The second summer, our family realized that we made most of our funds at Big Events so we tried to challenge ourselves to raise more funds; in less time spent volunteering.  This is why we decided to run our stand only at Big community events that year; including: Family Fun Day, the Historical Society’s Flea market; Hooked on Fishing; and the Triathlon.

It was this year that we were invited by the Elks to run our stand at the Brigantine Elks Bayfest.  (Don Irons, currently Past Exalted Ruler, and NJ State Elks Region 1 Youth Chair was instrumental in leading other community organizations to be aware of the efforts of the Mandes Family Stand, as it was then known, to raise funds for Pediatric Cancer Research. He was the one who also invited my husband and myself to be members of the Elks and the rest is history!  That year, through the encouragement of Mr. Irons, the V.F.W., the American Legion, and the Elks all made donations to the stand.

I believe it was also during this year, that Ms. Pollack, from the Alex Hotel found us in Brigantine and decided she wanted to connect with us in some way to help.

The third summer, the boys told us during one of our family meetings about our ideas for the stand that they wanted to run stands weekly AND at big community events! I, myself, a Smithville School 4th Grade Teacher who stays at home during the summers, decided to continue to follow my sons’ lead and get involved in this way.  The stand was quite a success; but our family was truly exhausted at the end of that summer and needed to take a vacation from our “vacation” and celebrated at Disney during Spring Break I believe.

The fourth summer that we ran our stand, we decided to change the format to holding “ONE BIG STAND AGAINST PEDIATRIC CANCER” yearly at Brigantine’s Family Fun Day.  This we did through 2009; each year, getting more and more business support to make the stand’s proceeds increase!  This was done along with online fundraising and a letter-writing campaign to help the cause.

The more business and community support our stand received, the more it was evident to us that this stand was not ours; it was Brigantine’s!  That is when it came to be called:  Brigantine’s Own Alex’s Lemonade Stand”!

In 2009, the boys decided to start a contest which they called the Youth Challenge Contest.  A few different groups of youth participated informally.  Some were from Galloway. A few of the boys’ friends in Brigantine helped them with their stands they were holding at the Smile Factory.

In 2010, the stand started evolving even further.  It marked the year Michael developed the Magic Lemonade Grants of Jumbo Canisters of Lemonade to youth who would pledge to attempt to raise at least $100 for the cause.  Our goal was to inspire other youth and their families in our community to join our team to raise funds to help our town reach our fundraising goal and continue to help fund pediatric cancer research.  Our family along with help from the Youth Alliance, ran stands at the Brigantine Elks Seafood Fest and Bayfest.

The Magic Lemonade Stand idea proved to expand the”Youth Challenge Contest” we ran in 2009. We knew that prior to this year; the two young people who were consistent supporters of the stand since 2007 were Anna Maria Carozzo and Hannah Towhey!  After Annamaria’s mom shared with her about the boys’ stand; she was inspired to run her own stand on Ocean Avenue with the help of her friend, Hannah. They have done so for 5 years now here in Brigantine and donated through the larger “Brigantine’s Own” Stand.


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2 thoughts on ““Brigantine’s Own” Alex’s Lemonade Stand”

  1. Bonnie & John Nikituk

    KUDOS to your children, you and your husband, your friends and our town. It is unselfish efforts like these that make our country great. Thank You.

    1. Thank you. It is really kudos to the townspeople for supporting the efforts. WE are also very grateful for the Brigantine Elks for their continued support. Now the boys are leading the Elks Antlers to carry on the efforts with the June 1st CYCLE FOR ALEX’S event. WE are trying to get families to come out and ride along our town’s bike paths on a given route from the Community Center to the Elks; going from lemonade stand to lemonade stand. They will end up at the Elks for a picnic lunch! Registration is at 9:30 at the Community Center and the event kicks off at 10:00 from the Community Center. Spread the word. It promises to be a healthy outing for families; all while helping a wonderful cause!

      Julie Mandes

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