From a very young age, he has had an interest in doing good deeds, which has been strongly driven by his school. His latest effort helped satisfy thirsty folks while supporting childhood cancer research.
Eight-year-old Jimmy Cullinan, a second grade student at Our Lady of the Assumption/Holy Family School, in the Stratfield area of Fairfield, spoke about his efforts, with mom Jennifer contributing a few details.
“In Sept. 2010, my second grade teacher, Miss (Kathy) Andrade, suggested doing a lemonade stand, to carry on a tradition she had started with the class back in the spring of 2008,” said Jimmy. “The stand supports Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.”
The Foundation was inspired by Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just before her first birthday. When she was 4, Alex told her parents she wanted to set up a front-yard lemonade stand with a plan to give the money to doctors to help them find a cure. Incredibly, her first stand raised $2,000 in one day. While fighting her own cancer, Alex continued to set up stands every year, inspiring others to do the same. When she passed in 2004 at the age of 8, her efforts had raised more than $1 million towards finding a cure. A year later, her parents started the Foundation, which has raised over $40 million to date.
“The lemonade stand allows the children to be very hands-on by making and selling the lemonade,” said mom Jennifer.
The Foundation provided a banner, as well as t-shirts to sell, as part of the fundraising. “For the September event, we set up in the school parking lot at the annual Septemberfest and it was available to all the school kids and anyone attending the Fest,” Jimmy said. “A lot of people came and thought it was a great idea. We didn’t charge for the lemonade. Instead, we asked for donations.”
Now, every month since, Jimmy and his schoolmates set up the stand for a day in the school cafeteria. “A notice goes out to parents so they can give their kids money,” said Jimmy. “Some kids also use their own savings.”
Jimmy’s group set up the stand outside last October as well, to align with a walkathon school fundraiser.
“Miss Andrade’s fundraising goal for the program was $2,000,” said Jennifer. “The kids surpassed that this year.”
Jennifer said this type of activity is par for the course for Jimmy. “He’s very aware of other’s needs and a thoughtful and generous boy,” she said. “In kindergarten, the school held a fundraiser for epilepsy, in which he participated. When he moved on to 1st grade, he continued saving money on his own, about $40, which he gave to the kindergarten teacher. In first grade, he also helped collect boxes of cereal to donate to a local food bank.”
“We have a teacher named Mrs. Riehl who does a Soup for the Superbowl program that runs from the beginning of the year until the big game, and we all collect cans of soup for Homes for the Brave, which helps veterans,” Jimmy said.
“Just last week, the school held a Math-a-thon, in which people from the community contribute money based on kids’ performances on math challenges,” Jennifer said. “More than $6,000 was raised.”
Jennifer added that these kinds of charity efforts just scratch the surface. “The school is very community focused and believes very much in giving back,” she said. “Almost every week, there’s something, teaching the children the importance of goodwill and helping others.”
Most importantly, kids like Jimmy enjoy participating. “I like doing this a lot and helping people,” he said. “I’ll probably do these kinds of things in the future. It’s so easy to make a difference and makes you feel good.”
Editor's note: Jimmy's last name and grade were incorrect in the original story and were corrected at 11:35 a.m. Friday.