For these girls, kindness comes with lemonade

When Gianna Horsford woke up on the morning of her eighth birthday to a brightly painted pink and blue lemonade stand in her living room, she had no idea that her big present would be a gift that kept on giving. 

After running her Wading River lemonade stand with her two younger sisters that summer of 2019, she saved the money she made to donate to the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. She delivered her donation of $86 to them on June 8 accompanied by her younger sisters, Mia and Natalia.

Now 11 years old, Gianna plans to continue raising money for the hospital this summer. 

She didn’t plan to donate the money to the children’s hospital when she first opened her stand. She said she thought of asking for a lemonade stand for her birthday because it was something “fun and exciting” for her and her sisters to do.

The idea for the donation came to her one day when a customer asked her what she was going to do with the money she raised. She instinctively replied, “To the children’s hospital.” 

“I just wanted to think of something happy because I was so happy that everyone was getting lemonade,” Gianna said. “All of a sudden, happy stuff started coming to my mind and the children’s hospital was one of them.”

“When she said that, as surprised as you are as a parent, you’re kind of not surprised at all,” said Gianna’s mother, Christie Horsford. She explained that Gianna has always expressed a deep care for others, helping people whenever and however she could. 

Ms. Horsford said she’s received many calls from Gianna’s teachers, Girl Scout leaders and friends’ parents about how kind she is to others. “You know how amazing your children are,” she said. “But when others can see that beauty, there’s no better gift than that.”

After bringing her donation to the hospital, Gianna received a personalized letter thanking her for her thoughtfulness and kind actions. 

“Not only have you done good work for the hospitalized children at Stony Brook, you have also set an example for your friends and family about what children can do to make the world a better place,” the letter read. 

Hospital staff told Gianna that the money donated would be used to purchase teaching dolls for sick children, helping them understand their illnesses with a model that resembles them. 

Gianna, 7-year-old Mia and 5-year-old Natalia are already selling their lemonade again to collect money for another donation. At their stand, the girls offer regular or pink lemonade chilled in pitchers with colorful ice cubes for $1 a cup. Their trick is to add regular ice to the lemonade right before giving it to customers, so it doesn’t get watered down. 

Customers often give the girls generous tips when they find out that the proceeds go to the children’s hospital. After receiving a $20 tip from one familiar customer last Thursday, Natalia exclaimed, “We got big money!”

When Gianna asked her sisters if they were going to help her run the stand this summer, Natalia replied, “Of course, why wouldn’t we?” 

The girls have fun working together to pour lemonade and count change for their customers while their parents watch, giggling in their matching lemon print dresses. 

“Giving to her is her happiness, no matter what it is,” Ms. Horsford said. “She’s a great role model for her sisters, who follow suit.” 

“I learned it from Mommy,” Gianna chimed in.