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Recently, we spotlighted restaurants that said no kids allowed.
It turns out that several kids out there have things to do besides worry about getting shut out of steak houses in Pittsburgh or Mexican fish spots in Houston. They're busy figuring out how to feed hungry children around the world, fight child slavery and get rid of Styrofoam.
So let's have a big round of applause for these extraordinary kids, and support everything they're doing.
Make a Stand Lemon-Aid: Fighting Child Slavery
When she was eight, Vivienne Harr ran a lemonade stand for 365 days straight called Make a Stand Lemonade, in Marin County, California. Now she’s nine, and her project has become Make a Stand Lemon-aid, which donates 5 percent of its gross revenue to organizations that fight child slavery. When asked how one child can make a difference in the world, she says, “Gandhi was one person. Mother Teresa was one person. Why can’t you be one person who helps?” The lemonade stand now exists as an online campaign through which you can buy the lemonade; it’s also available retail in the western US, to contribute to the cause.
NeverSeconds: Feeding Hungry Kids
In Scotland, nine-year-old Martha Payne launched a blog, NeverSeconds, in April 2012 to document the poor nutritional quality of her school lunches (her ratings also cited "pieces of hair" she found in her food). The blog took off, and Payne used it as a platform to raise money to fund childhood nutrition programs in Africa and elsewhere. She has already raised almost $215,000 for Mary's Meals, an international nonprofit that organizes feeding programs in schools in poor communities worldwide. Her memoir NeverSeconds: The Incredible Story of Martha Payne is now available in paperback, and each copy sold donates funds to feed 25 schoolchildren in Malawi through Mary's Meals. Jamie Oliver is a fan.
Katie's Krops: Gardening to Fight Hunger
When she was nine, Katie Stagliano's third-grade garden project was to take care of a single cabbage plant. It grew to a massive 40 pounds. She donated the cabbage to a local soup kitchen, Tricounty Family Ministries, in North Charleston, South Carolina, which used it to feed more than 275 people. That cabbage became Stagliano's inspiration to launch her nonprofit organization, Katie's Krops. Now 14, she has helped create more than 60 gardens around the country to feed the hungry. Katie's Krops offers annual grants to kids ages 9 to 16 to start vegetable gardens and give the entire harvest to those in need (grantees decide where to donate the produce—homeless shelters, food banks, their school classmates, soup kitchens, neighbors and others).
In summer of 2012, fifth grader Mia Hansen, of Carlsbad, California, launched a petition on Change.org asking the Jamba Juice smoothie chain to stop using Styrofoam cups. The petition read: "I'm 10 years old and when I was at Jamba Juice a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a smoothie and they gave it to me in a Styrofoam cup! The person behind me ordered yogurt and they gave her yogurt in a Styrofoam container, too. That's just ridiculous. Styrofoam takes so long to break down into the earth. In the ocean, several animals think that this product is food, so when they go to eat it, the Styrofoam can kill them! Also, did you know 57 chemical by-products are released during the creation of Styrofoam? That is a lot of chemicals to safely dispose of. Jamba Juice does not use Styrofoam cups in some cities where the city doesn't allow it, like Seattle. If they do that there, they can do it everywhere!" She garnered 134,497 signatures, successfully prompting Jamba Juice to make a public commitment to stop using polystyrene cups by the end of 2013.
Healthy McDonald's Campaigner
In May, nine-year-old Hannah Robertson attended McDonald's annual shareholders' meeting with her mom, Kia Robertson, a blogger about healthy food choices for kids, and members of the group Corporate Accountability International. Hannah was the first at the microphone when the floor was opened up to questions. "It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time," she told McDonald's CEO Don Thompson. The group is campaigning to force McDonald's to stop marketing to children through its mascot Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals.