IMG_9250It all started in the summer of 2015 when Brayden’s grandparents raspberry crop came on full force. They live in Canby, Oregon and had more delicious, ripe, organic raspberries than one family could possibly consume.  “Papa”, Brayden’s grandfather, asked him if he would like to have a berry stand and Brayden thought that could be fun. He had been wanting to do a lemonade stand for months. Perfect! Berries and Lemonade would make a great combination! It was at church, that very Sunday, he learned about Welcome Boxes for children entering foster care. Brayden’s mom asked Brayden how he felt about some of the money from his sales going to this awesome project. He thought it sounded like a good plan. Welcome boxes are given to children entering foster care while they await placement. The box provides them with activities and toys to help ease the hours until they are placed, and also contains items that will be useful in their new home.

Brayden sold his fresh picked organic raspberries and lemonade over the course of the next four weeks. By the end of the first week he had decided that ALL of the money should go towards the boxes for kids entering foster care.  He kept with it despite the heat and hours of waiting for customers to find him. He kept selling. He sold knowing that his hard work was not going to buy an awesomely ginormous Lego set as he had perhaps originally planned. This money was for toys for other children. He was prepared for slow going. Brayden lives on a cul-de-sac and he was set up to sell during the middle of the day, on weekdays. Definitely not prime lemonade stand hours. Not much traffic goes through a cul-de-sac.

Brayden’s mom decided to start a little social media advertising for him.  At first friends, neighbors, and family came by to sip lemonade and pick up fresh berries.  Then friends of friends and eventually, strangers passing by. Then he got orders for berries via social media. Incredible. Word continued to spread through his family’s friends and connections. He even received checks in the mail supporting his mission!  Each time he made a sale, he was reminded to tell his customers about what the money was for.  He would ask, “Mom, why do you keep having me tell everyone why I am doing this?”  It was explained to him that hopefully people would see God’s love in what he was doing.

As word continued to spread about his mission, Brayden started receiving Facebook messages of people asking if they could donate items for the boxes!  Now he was receiving donations of hygiene items, toys, art materials and school supplies to put in the boxes.  This means Brayden’s hard earned money stretched even further than imagined. It was a true example of loaves and fishes. Brayden’s mom says: “God is amazing like that. Our community has responded in a big, big way. There seems to be a lot of interest in supporting children in the foster system. This is a very tangible way to do exactly that.” Wilsonville has been extremely generous in supporting Brayden’s mission. Brayden began that summer with a goal of filling four boxes.  He ended up filling 28.

The following summer was even more remarkable.  His hope was to exceed his first summer’s total and fill 40 boxes. He filled 102!

Each summer and Christmas season, as his mission continues, the impact grows!  In the past four years Brayden’s project has raised enough money to help over 500 children entering foster care in our community.  We are so grateful to our community and all who support Brayden’s Berry Stand.

The next step in Brayden’s mission is to encourage other kids to STEP IN. Step in where they see a need. Not to let being a kid stop you. Where your heart sees a need, step in and fill the gap. As Brayden says, “Every act of kindness, changes the world.”

Brayden is now in seventh grade. He enjoys baseball, soccer, basketball and playing with his friends.

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