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Twins, 9, donate thousands to police fund after cops save their lemonade stand

When someone stole their tip jar, Katelyn and Elias were devastated. Luckily, local first responders were in the mood for lemonade

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Karen Hatting Smidt via Facebook

By Isabella Rosario
Ames Tribune

AMES, Iowa — Nine-year-old twins Katelyn and Elias Smidt had been asking to open a lemonade stand all summer long, their mother Karen Smidt said.

Their parents helped them set up a table in their east Ames neighborhood Monday afternoon. The lemonade was free, but many people left money in the tip jar, totaling around $50 to $100. For a couple of hours, “it was just absolutely so cool,” Smidt said.

Then, as Smidt went inside to make more lemonade, another patron stopped by.

“It was just like this split-second situation where all of a sudden, this car drove up and my daughter asked her if she wanted lemonade, and she said yes,” Smidt said. “And so, Katelyn was ready to serve her lemonade, and she grabbed the tip jar and got in the car and squealed off.”

When her son told her about what happened, Smidt said she “had a pit in (her) stomach.” Through tears, the kids continued to run the lemonade stand that afternoon. At the advice of a neighbor, Smidt called Ames police to report the incident.

“Officer Rohland came out. She was absolutely phenomenal with Katelyn,” Smidt said.

What happened next, Smidt said, she “literally couldn’t have even dreamed up.”

Later that day, first responders from the Ames Police Department, Ames Fire Department, Story County Sheriff’s Office and Iowa State University Police Department stopped by for lemonade.

“The look on my kid’s faces was ... you just can’t even describe it,” Smidt said. “They were just so excited because they had so much lemonade to serve.”

Lemonade stand proceeds to be donated to Shop with a Cop

As a family, they decided to donate all proceeds from the lemonade stand to Shop with a Cop, an annual holiday event by the Ames Police Foundation where children and officers shop together at Target.

“Our experience has been amazing, and we really just want it to be multiplied. We want more people to have that same experience with cops,” Smidt said.

Between in-person tips and donations to Smidt’s Venmo account @karen-smidt-1, the kids have raised more than $2,400, Smidt said.

From this, Smidt said she hopes her kids will understand “there’s always bad in the world, but the amount of good always outweighs the bad.”

And they decided to run the lemonade stand at least one more day, starting 1 p.m. Wednesday at East 13th Street and Meadowlane Avenue.

“It’s so crazy just how all-consuming this lemonade stand has become in our life. We really are just focusing on all the amazing parts of it,” Smidt said.

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