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When life hands you lemons ...

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By Joe Vaccarelli

This summer, some Evergreen youngsters will make lemonade from lemons and pearls from swine — all the while helping children in Uganda.

Through sales of lemonade and piggybanks, local kids will raise funds for two programs designed to help orphaned children in the East African nation.

Into Your Hands was founded by Evergreen resident Maria Camp in 2007. Camp started a kid-staffed lemonade stand to raise money for the St. Denis Senior Secondary School in Makondo, Uganda. Last year, profits went toward mosquito netting and bunk beds. This summer’s proceeds will be used to buy books for St. Denis’ new library.

Mary Ragan of the Into Your Hands Kids Club said the lemonade stands typically bring in about $60 per day; stands staffed by volunteering children are operating at least weekly at various locations around town.

This year Evergreen kids will also be selling piggybanks for $25 each to raise money for St. Denis’ Send a Piglet Home program. The program selects 30 Ugandan students and gives each a healthy female piglet to raise and eventually breed. The students are trained in how to care for the piglet and build it a shelter. After the piglet is grown, it can be bred. Female pigs can have eight to 10 piglets that can then be sold for $20 each. The first offspring of the piglet will be given back to the school for a new student to participate. Each student could potentially double his or her family’s yearly income with this project.

“So far, we’ve raised enough to fund six piglets, so we’re working to 24 more,” Camp said.

Three of those piglets have come courtesy of Nancy Plant’s class at the Montessori School of Evergreen. She and her class have raised money for several charitable causes through the school store and by selling T-shirts. They chose to give a portion of that money to Into Your Hands for the piglet program.

Kids from Peace Jam Jr. and Kids for Philanthropy will help with the lemonade stands this summer by setting them up at their houses on certain days, and some will help by selling the piggybanks as well.

Adult leaders of the organizations feel it is important to get kids involved in these programs and show them the benefits of helping children around the world who are less fortunate.

“I think this is a way for children to see a larger global world and hopefully see some changes,” said Maureen Rudy, co-founder of Kids for Philanthropy. “It gives the kids a greater world perspective.”

Caren Henry of Peace Jam Jr. also said she thinks it’s important for kids to get involved in activities that help kids in poverty around the world.

“In this day and age, everything happens so quickly, and a lot of our attention is put on ourselves,” Henry said. “Connecting with nonprofits helps kids see outside themselves and gain an understanding that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. It teaches them to be empathetic, compassionate and to work together in a group.”

Peace Jam Jr. hopes to have a lemonade stand at the Farmers Market in Evergreen one Tuesday this summer. Last summer the kids raised $300 in one day at the Farmers Market.

Camp said that while public education is taken for granted in the U.S., Ugandan youths often are unable to attend school.

“It’s a passion of (the students) to go to school,” Camp said. “The problem is lack of resources.”

Camp said the cost of schooling in Uganda is difficult for most families to afford, and many kids ages 13 to 18 are heads of household. The average income of a Ugandan family is $240 per year, and the tuition for St. Denis, one of the more affordable schools there, is roughly half of that. As of now, only one in six kids in Uganda go to school.