It is blueberry season in New Jersey, especially in Hammonton, NJ, the blueberry capital of the world. What makes this the ‘blueberry capital of the world? – the soils of New Jersey’s outer coastal plain are more fine, sandy and acidic. These soil conditions allow the berries to thrive. Located within this geographic region is the New Jersey Pine Barrens, an internationally recognized biosphere that makes up 22 percent of the state’s land area. Knowing these brief facts, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the Hemmann family drove almost two hours, one way, from the home in northern New Jersey to this costal enclave to pick the best blueberries in the whole wide world.
Upon arrival at the farm, the Hemmanns: Daddy Mark, Mommy Laura, Jijie (a/k/a big sister) Hannah and Didi (a/k/a younger brother) Henry went into action. In the family’s zealous and relentless picking efforts, within an hour and 20 minutes, the indefensible blueberry bushes relented, providing 31 pounds (14kg) of delicious blueberries (not taking into account the 5 pounds that the family ate while picking!) One could not help noticing that the largest and highest quality blueberries were picked by Mommy Laura, the author of this inspiring piece. In any respect, all the bounty was sequestered away in the confines of the family refrigerator for cold storage until the next day.
Daddy and Mommy decided that the bounty could be the basis for two little entrepreneurs to venture into their first business operation, a nonprofit endeavor no less. Whom to donate the net proceeds? ARC, of course! Such a no brainer, the family decided.
Mommy, a lawyer, briefly contemplated the issue regarding whether a permit is necessary for such an effort under the increased vigilance of the city administration. Daddy’s tentative response to the issue was “probably yes, a permit is necessary.” In spite of this bureaucratic impediment, both Daddy and Mommy decided promptly to turn a blind eye to the issue as everyone in America appreciates the underdog, especially when the underdog is two little children hawking recently picked fruit of the earth and donating to those in need half a world away.
So, after church on Sunday, the family set up an “illegal” blueberry stand, first by the water taxi from Jersey City to New York City, and then moved to a busier spot around the corner in Liberty State Park – Daddy took the precaution of setting up the stand on the grass, as opposed to the side walk; why, you ask? Well, the grassy area was part of the state park, while the sidewalk was on city property. This calculated move was meant to take the “Hemmann family blueberry operation” outside the jurisdiction of Jersey City police.
Signs were put up “Fresh Picked Saturday Afternoon. Proceeds Donated to ARC Foundation”, “ALL NET PROCEEDS TO BE DONATED TO CHARITY.”
The kids were strongly encouraged, and even coached, to accost potential customers with succulent samples, and eventually became proficient and enthusiastic in doing so. “Great team work!” Daddy and Mommy applauded every sale and every earnest effort.
It must be noted that people were very generous once they learned that the proceeds would be going to a charitable cause.
Sales were brisk, and people were kind. In fact, two gentlemen, not exactly dressed in their Sunday best, wanted to donate money, even though they could have bough a few boxes. Such was the generous nature of most encountered by our budding entrepreneurs. There was one guy who was biking with his two daughters, and who wanted a small box of blueberries; however, he did not carry any money. Daddy generously gave him a box and the family’s address for him to send a check of $3 payable to ARC, assuming he remembered to do so. Two and half hours later, ALL blueberries were sold. After the cost of the blueberries and the kids’ wages of $1 per kid/employee, a total of $99 net proceeds were made that day.
Four days later, a guy showed up in the apartment building asking around for a certain apartment number, i.e. the Hemmann residence. As he was inquiring as to the whereabouts of the Hemmann residence, Daddy happened to come back from an outdoor run and walk by the front desk. The man making the inquiry turned out to be the man who owed $3 to ARC; he promptly gave Daddy an envelope with a $5 bill, representing $2 in interest proceeds for the $3 debt incurred four days earlier.
So, it is hereby proudly reported that the Hemmanns’ first fundraiser for ARC was a resounding success, teaching life lessons to children, reminding adults of the need for compassion, and practically generated a total of $104 in net proceeds. ☺
For those ARC supporters, who no longer live in China, the summer represents plenty of time and opportunities to fundraise for ARC. Let’s see if your lemonade stand can beat our blueberry stand. ‘Game on’, ‘happy hunting’, and Happy Fourth of July! ☺