On Wednesdays, between 4 and 6 p.m., soft-spoken Dylan can often be found at his lemonade stand on Bacon Street, giving away free cups of the cold drink. In return, his thankful, thirst-quenched patrons have compensated him with donations, part of which he regularly contributes toward helping needy others.
One recent recipient of Dylan’s lemonade largesse has been his lifelong friend Kalel Hamilton. Kalel, now living with his family in Northern California, has been stricken by muscular dystrophy. Some of Dylan’s lemonade proceeds have lately been going to help pay for Kalel’s stem-cell treatments.
Dylan’s mom, Holly Raines, talked about the origin of her young son’s enterprise.
“In 2016 when he was 6 years old, Dylan came up with the idea of getting a $100 bill,” she said. “His dad Marco and I told him he had to earn it, either by doing chores or starting a lemonade stand. He asked his dad to help him build a lemonade stand, and he started selling in summer 2016.”
Noting Dylan’s lemonade is absolutely free, she said it soon became obvious that his customers were being generous with their donations. That led she and Marco to encourage Dylan to use his proceeds to return the favor.
“We suggested that, since people had been kind to him, that he ought to think about paying it forward, giving back to the community,” Holly said. “So he started investing, and by winter he had enough money to do something to help people living on the streets.”
Dylan donated backpacks and sack lunches to the homeless. Other projects of his have since included art supplies (Dylan does abstract acrylic art learned from YouTube) for children at Rady’s Hospital, and gifts for Syrian refugees.
Why does he do it?
“It just feel good when you help out,” Dylan said. “I feel bad when people are having trouble.”
Holly is “extremely” proud of her son and his growing altruism.
“He always ends up donating significantly more money to his projects from his piggy bank,” she said. “It’s not something he has to do. It’s something he wants to do.”