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Making a difference: Girls sell lemonade to raise money for cancer research

Lacey Severson (middle left) and her children Maddie (left) and Kenley stopped to purchase lemonade and cookies from Mackenzie Goodwin (right, back to front), Mya Stender and Madison Melby Thursday afternoon at Melby’s Alexandria home. The three girls were raising money to send to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for cancer research. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)1 / 2
(From left) Mackenzie Goodwin, Mya Stender and Madison Melby sell lemonade and cookies Thursday afternoon at Melby’s home on Scenic Heights Road in Alexandria. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)2 / 2

For most kids, a lemonade stand is a way to earn some money to buy something for themselves. However, for three Alexandria girls, it has become a way to help others and make a difference in the world.

Mackenzie Goodwin, Mya Stender and Madison Melby, all age 13 and going into 8th grade, decided to sell lemonade and cookies in 2017 to raise money to send to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which does research and provides treatment and for children with cancer. The three best friends raised more than $200 in one day last year, and hoped to double that amount this year.

"We just wanted to help," Melby said.

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15, they sold lemonade and cookies in front of Melby's house on Scenic Heights Road in Alexandria.

"We wanted to do something with our summer that was productive, Goodwin said.

The girls couldn't really verbalize exactly why they were more interested in helping others rather than doing something to benefit themselves. But they did explain that they have volunteered at nursing homes and animal shelters over the past couple of years, and that they have also known a few people who have had cancer.

"We wanted to help out kids and families that had expenses," Stender said.

And so, they spent about eight hours the day before the sale getting ready by baking cookies and making fresh lemonade. The girls' parents and siblings also helped with preparation for the event, as well as running for supplies.

In addition, they were also backed by Thrivent Financial this year, which provided some money to buy supplies, as well as getting the word out on social media.

"We're really just hoping that it gets bigger and bigger every year," Stender added.

As of Thursday morning's count, they had almost tripled what they raised last year, with a total of $592 and a few donations still coming in.

"We are amazed and humbled by everyone who took time to support and encourage these girls," said Laura Streich, Stender's mother. "We can't wait for next year."