WALLA WALLA - For 6-year-old Jack Wanichek a lemonade stand isn't just a way to make money, it's a way to make dreams come true.
The soon-to-be kindergarten student wants to help children who are suffering from a life-threatening illness or have a life-altering injury. Children's Wishes and Dreams is a local company helping children in these situations have a dream come true. Friday, he made a large contribution to the company, banking over $850 in only 1 hours at his lemonade stand.
"I think it teaches him a good thing," said Staci Wanichek, Jack's mother. "He's pretty compassionate."
As he worked, his mother encouraged and helped when he needed it, greeting customers and helping serve lemonade. He has wanted to do this ever since they found the lemonade stand at an auction in May, she said. He even helped pick out the colors to use when decorating; his favorites: blue and red.
His art also appeared on the signs advertising the stand and the shirts worn the day of the sale. They included pictures he drew of children in hospital gowns representing those he hoped to help.
The idea of a lemonade stand began with Jack's sister, 9-year-old Allison Wanichek. Two years ago Allison set up a lemonade stand to raise money for the Blue Mountain Humane Society.
"He just wanted to help children who are sick," said Allison, who was also helping with the stand.
Jack wanted "to give them enough money to go on a trip," referring to some of the wishes fulfilled at Children's Wishes and Dreams, including a recent wish to travel to Disneyland.
Steve Wanichek, Jack's father and the owner of Walla Walla Builders Supply, provided the entrance of the store for Jack to set up shop. Family and friends, as well as customers going in and out of the store, stopped by the stand to pick up a cool drink on the warm Friday. Raspberry and regular lemonade were available for 50 cents a glass, though many people gave larger donations.
"It's wonderful," said Peggie Vandenberg, president of Children's Wishes and Dreams. "It's always nice when kids give to other kids that are seriously ill or have serious injuries."
Unlike other wish fulfillment companies, Children's Wishes and Dreams receives money from local sources and works only with children in the Walla Walla Valley. It also has different requirements; it fulfills wishes for children up to 21 years old, and it also works with children who are not terminally ill. Some wishes fulfilled include redesigning bedrooms and trips to various places, such as Disneyland and Sea World.
Jennifer Jorgenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.