Eleven-year-old Lily Eken of Alexandria said she was reading an article in the newspaper recently about the Andria Theatre and how COVID-19 was making an impact and the downtown theater was in financial trouble.
“We need to do something,” she told her mom. “The Andria is family to us.”
Lily Eken is a performer at Andria Theatre, having acted in six different plays, while her mom, Molly Eken, sews costumes. Her 9-year-old sister, Claire, has also performed at the Andria Theatre. She’s been in three plays. Their two younger siblings, 7-year-old Hazel and 5-year-old Ruby, hope to perform at the theater someday, too.
The Eken sisters, with help from their mom, decided to have a lemonade stand, selling not only lemonade, but treats such as fruit snacks, granola bars and homemade chocolate chip cookies made by Lily herself.
When their mom saw that some neighbors were having a garage sale last weekend, she told her daughters they should have the lemonade stand at the same time. The girls got busy and last Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, they set up their stand near their home in the Ridgewood neighborhood in northwest Alexandria.
“We thought we would maybe make $100,” said Lily.
With smiles across all their faces, the four sisters shared the actual amount they ended up raising in about 10 1/2 hours over those two days. They raised a total of $2,110.50 – or $201 per hour.
“It was the most proudest moment of my whole life,” said Claire.
On Monday, June 29, Molly brought the girls to the Andria Theatre so they could give their donation. They presented David Christman, the theater’s artistic director and the person who has directed the girls in their productions, a check for $2,110.50.
Christman couldn’t be happier or thank them enough.
“I’ll say it again. This is what community looks like,” said Christman. “They saw a need and found a way to bless. I heard one of them say when asked what their favorite part was, ‘I loved serving people and helping the theater.’ This is what makes this place so amazing – the people!”
The girls were thankful for all the people who stopped at their stand and donated, especially to Geneva Capital, which gave them a donation of $250, and also the Helping Hands of Alexandria group, which gave them a $100 donation.
Hazel shared a story of one family who came and bought some of the cookies they had made. She said the kids kept coming back and buying more and more cookies. She thought they probably bought about 20 cookies. The girls sold nearly 350 homemade cookies during those two days.
Lily shared a story of three young men who each bought items that were either $1 or 50 cents and how they each paid with a $20 bill and told the girls to keep the change.
“It was a lot of fun. Especially to see how many people supported the theater,” said Lily.
Each of the girls expressed how much they enjoyed it and that they want to do it again. And Ruby even sang a couple of her original songs. All four of the Eken sisters want to find their way onto the stage again at the Andria Theatre and will continue to do their part to help it out.