Good Neighbors

Not All Heroes Wear Capes - But Most Drink Lemonade

Wait until you hear how a 12-year-old boy raised thousands for charity - without ever leaving his house.

When life gives you coronavirus – make virtual lemonade?

That's just what Michael Haynes is encouraging others to do in celebration of his 12th birthday.

The sixth grader knew he wasn't going to be spending his special day with a big party and piles of gifts, so he thought of a different way to celebrate: by helping others.

The Westampton, NJ native started brainstorming with his mom Linda to come up with an idea.

He remembered a lemonade stand he held a few years ago where he was able to raise over $500 for charity. Linda had the idea to take the stand online.

"Everything is virtual," right now Linda told the Burlington County Times, "So why not a virtual lemonade stand?"

Michael encouraged anyone who donated to his fundraiser to post a photo of themselves enjoying a glass of lemonade. Michael's Birthday Virtual Lemonade Stand/Facebook

The two decided to host the fundraiser on Facebook, where they invited people to make a small donation to Feeding America in honor of Michael's birthday. After making a donation, they asked participants to post a photo of themselves enjoying a glass of lemonade.

Michael said that he chose to support Feeding America because "lots of people are struggling to put food on the table," especially now, since the coronavirus crisis has resulted in millions of job losses nationwide.

Michael met his fundraiser's goal of $1,000 in two days. At the time of writing this article, the virtual lemonade stand has brought in $2,030.

"I was really surprised, by it. We didn't even think we would hit a thousand," Michael said. "I was really amazed."

Another person who was impressed with Michael's efforts to help others is New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy, who called Michael on his birthday to thank him for what he was doing.

The governor of New Jersey reached out to Michael on his birthday to congratulate him on reaching his fundraising goal. Michael's Birthday Virtual Lemonade Stand/Facebook

Murphy even praised Michael in a press conference that was viewed by thousands of people on YouTube and said he was an example of how the community is "stepping up, in matters big and small."

"I was wishing a guy named Michael Haynes a happy birthday today," Murphy said. "What's he doing? He's having a virtual lemonade stand sale."

Michael's fundraiser has raised over $2K for Feeding America. Michael's Birthday Virtual Lemonade Stand/Facebook

Michael and Linda received dozens of positive messages on Facebook, from people in New Jersey and across the country.

Feeding America even chimed in with a birthday greeting for Michael.

Michael's Birthday Virtual Lemonade Stand/Facebook

Even though the fundraiser was virtual, it seemed to touch people in a very real way.

"People just need some positivity," Linda said of the campaign's popularity. "And this was a perfect way to do that."

Michael's sister made him a special sign for his online fundraiser. Michael's Birthday Virtual Lemonade Stand/Facebook

How can you start something good?

Michael's Birthday Virtual Lemonade Fundraiser is still going strong on Facebook.

Click here to make a donation today. And don't forget to share a photo when you do!

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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