FAYETTE—Carly Stark and Charity Gentry were not going to let a little thing like a bad economy stop them from doing something big for Joplin.
The 9-year-old girls from Fayette, best friends for most of their lives, came up with an old reliable idea to bless those in need after the May 22 tornado. The girls ran a lemonade stand June 8 and brought in an
People gave profusely, with some even flipping in $20 bills. When Carly and Charity looked down into their bucket at the end of the day, their eyes were as big as lemon slices.
“Wow,” Charity said.
“Cool,” Carly said.
Location was important for the young Missouri Baptists. Carly, who goes to Unity Baptist Church here, and Charity, who goes to Woodcrest Church in Columbia, obtained permission from the manager of the busiest grocery store in town, C & R Market, to set up their stand. They also were stocked with plenty of brownies and cookies to sell that were donated by Unity members.
In no time people were throwing in big bills, with several C & R employees coming out to add their contributions. When things would die down a bit over the five hours that they were in operation, Carly or Charity would break into a “Joplin” cheer complete with hand and arm motions spelling out each letter.
“Our church really pitched in,” said Jean Stark, Carly’s mother. “They came and gave donations, and a lot of them brought the sweets. There were people who were dropping money in that bucket and they didn’t have a clue who we were. It just really touched me.”
The groundwork for the big collection day was laid by their parents, who encouraged the girls to watch various news reports of the Joplin tornado and its aftermath. It touched the girls very deeply to the point where they rose up and decided to make a difference in their hometown.
“Whenever we saw all the pictures on the Internet, I don’t think that she realized it until she saw all the devastation there,” said Carrie Gentry, Charity’s mother. “We kept pointing out things like, ‘There’s no school. The kids don’t have a school.’”
Clay DeWoody, pastor of Unity Baptist which runs about 70 in Sunday worship, said the most impressive thing about what the girls did was that they came to their parents on their own and said they wanted to help the people of Joplin.
“That, for me, is the most important point,” he said.
The church held a separate collection for Joplin and raised $310—nearly the identical amount raised by Carly and Charity.
Jean Stark said both families are very proud of the girls.
“They have good hearts,” she said.
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor