Like many kids her age, Alizay Kashif aspired to test her business savvy by opening a lemonade stand on her block. Instead of pocketing the money for herself, she planned to donate her proceeds to Feeding America, a U.S. hunger relief organization based in Chicago.
But a bad location and thieves turned the 11-year-old’s entrepreneurial dreams into a nightmare. Thankfully, that was rectified when the community stepped into help.
Alizay’s father Kashif Zaman said his family lives on a Naperville cul-de-sac where there’s not much foot or vehicular traffic. Alizay sat outside for more than two hours June 28, and “didn’t see any customers,” Zaman said.
Feeling sorry for his daughter, Zaman offered to buy some of her lemonade, soda and chocolate chip cookies, all priced at $1. “She told me, ‘I need some real customers,’” he said.
To her delight, the teens returned in a car with two more friends.
Alizay said the same teen once again asked how she was charging for the lemonade. But instead of paying, the teen grabbed Alizay’s basket with the money and drove off with the ill-gotten gains.
“At first I thought it was a prank,” Alizay said. “I was about to cry when it happened."
She was so in shock, her friend ran to the house to alert her mother of the robbery.
Zaman said his daughter was so upset that he decided to voice his concerns on the social media platform Nextdoor. To his surprise, 50 to 60 people offered advice, urging Zaman to alert the police and pushing Alizay to try again.
One of the posters, Ben Hutchison, said he was moved by Alizay’s story.
As a former television reporter in Milwaukee, Hutchison said he’d often come across stories of people in horrible situations. “I always wished I could do more,” he said.
This time he said, “I’ve got to do something,” and suggested Alizay set up shop in front of his house at the corner of Charles Avenue and Gartner Road in Naperville.
Alizay took Hutchison up on his offer Sunday, and she immediately saw results.
Neighbors came out in droves after reading of her plight on Nextdoor, Zaman said, “and the police caught wind of her stand.”
“Initially I started hearing sirens,” Alizay said. Then a line of Naperville squad cars rounded the corner and pulled up in front of her lemonade stand.
“We were not expecting a huge motorcade,” Zaman said.
Naperville police also passed the hat at the police station and collected $170, which was presented to Alizay.
“I think that really made the day,” Alizay said. “I think that was super nice, and it played a really big part.”
Hutchison, who grew up in Naperville, said he’s proud of the outpouring of support from neighbors and the police. Video of police arriving at Alizay’s stand in front of his house is growing by roughly 10,000 viewers a day.
“The Naperville Police Department took it to a new level,” he said. “It reinforces why I wanted to be back in Naperville.”
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