A nine-year-old boy was inspired to help his city after hearing a radio report about Detroit’s money problems.
Joshua Smith decided to help his city by selling lemonade and other snacks on his front porch. From 5p.m. to 8p.m., Smith sells lemonade, organic fruit punch, and popcorn in an effort to put a dent in the city’s $100 million deficit.
"I heard the city was in crisis because the city is broke, and I was really upset," Joshua said.
His parents Flynn and Rhonda Smith, both 43 said that they can’t bear to tell their son that it’s going to take more than a lemonade sale to fix the city’s financial problems. However, his parents and many others are inspired by Joshua’s motivation.
"I'm really proud of him. He wasn't asking how can he make money to buy himself something. My wife and I were talking about this earlier: Neither of us ever thought to do anything like this when we were kids," said Flynn Smith, a high school math teacher and associate pastor at Evangel Ministries here.
"He's always been a conscientious child about what's going on around him, and we want to encourage him with whatever he wants to do as long as it's positive and God honoring," said Rhonda Smith, a freelance writer.
Joshua’s items range from $1 for a bottle of water to $2 for a large bag of popcorn.
Rhonda helped her son create fliers about the sale which reads: "May you please help the City of Detroit. Please buy this popcorn and drinks. It's not so expensive. I didn't make it expensive so you would have to spend all your money. The money will help clean up trash on the ground and cut the grass in the parks."
The park near Joshua’s home contains broken water fountains and grass that is almost taller than Joshua who stands at about 5 feet.
Joshua and his mom distributed the fliers at a local jazz festival and posted information about the sale on Facebook. Through the Facebook post, friends of the family also began spreading the word.
"I posted it, and my friends posted it. I had friends as far as Oregon asking how they could contribute," said Kim Trent, Rhonda’s childhood friend.
They’ve also received donations from people around the country via a PayPal account.
Joshua’s first customer was his next-door-neighbor Robert Rucker, 60.
"The city really needs all the help it can get, so I wanted to help out," Rucker said. "Somebody needs to try something; the adults too."
People can donate to the City of Detroit by visiting the city teller on the first floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. The money will be added to the city’s general fund unless a particular department is specified.
Joshua plans to send Detroit Mayor Dave Bling a note with the donated funds stating:
"Dear Mr. Mayor, I'm sending this money because I hear the city is broke and I'm hoping to raise $1,000 or more so we can have lots of money, so we can cut grass and fix the water fountains in the park."
During the first few hours of being in business, Joshua made $69.