Parker raises money for ForKids

Published 7:49 pm Saturday, May 26, 2018

A simple lemonade and cookie stand ran one day a year for three hours has raised $10,683 for ForKids since 2012.

Parker Duke, 12, has been running the Parker Duke Lemonade Stand since he was 6, when he realized not every kid has the opportunity to sleep in a bed and wake up in their own home.

Now, six years later, Parker has made a five-year commitment to raise an additional $5,000 specifically for the new ForKids facility in Suffolk. The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation has also agreed to match the gift in support of ForKids’ new Suffolk facility on West Constance Road, which is expected to open next month.

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Parker learned about child homelessness from his mother, Nicole Harrell, who is a ForKids board member.

Prior to an art auction to support ForKids, Nicole had to explain what ForKids was and what they did.

“You could see the wheels turning in his head that some kids didn’t have homes,” Harrell said. “When we came come, the next morning, Parker said he wanted to do something ForKids.”

Now, six years later, the operation raises money with its stand selling homemade chocolate cookies and lemonade. It also received money from local businesses, and cookies are delivered to them by Parker and Harrell at a date of their choosing.

Last year, to get the word out, Parker delivered fliers around the neighborhood and sent letters to local businesses telling them about the stand.

“My favorite part is actually being outside and setting everything up,” Parker said.

Every year, just before the stand opens up, Harrell sits down with Parker to discuss how much they want to raise, and every year Parker’s goals grow. Last year, Parker raised $5,202 from his lemonade stand, and he wants to double that for this summer.

“It makes me happy that we made all that money for these kids,” Parker said.

It is no easy feat to have the lemonade stand and prepare for the single-day event. More than 300 cookies are baked and 100 lemons are squeezed the night before to prepare for the fundraiser, and Parker thinks it’s best to have both items at the stand.

“I really wanted to switch it up and add cookies to the stand,” Parker said.

Harrell does the bulk of the baking for the event with help from her children.

The stand has evolved in the almost six years it has been around. Now Parker makes home deliveries for cookies, and he still receives contributions from those who can’t attend the day of the fundraiser.

They hope that the operation continues to grow every year so they can make larger contributions to ForKids, and Parker intends to do the stand for as long as he can; however, he does not intend to let his brother change the name of the stand when he goes off to college.