Every summer, kids of all ages inevitably look for ways to earn money while school is out. Some look to earn extra cash to spend while on vacation, and some probably want to earn money to buy books or video games to keep them occupied on summer break. In Pasadena, one 5-year-old boy named Mark Wedemeyer has found his own way to earn money over the summer. However, instead of keeping his earnings, he is using that money to help children in local hospitals.
Charity work has always been a part of Mark’s life. Since he was about 2 years old, he and his mother, Angela Wedemeyer, and his grandmother, Missy “Mimi” Sabino, have helped people in need around Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City. Over the years, Mark and his grandmother have supported the homeless population through the local nonprofit organizations Be More Caring and BKind. Along with other volunteers, they have dedicated countless weekends to donating and distributing blankets, clothes, shoes, outwear and toiletries, as well as serving hot meals to hundreds of people in need. Further, Mark buys gifts for Lighthouse Church’s giving tree every holiday season, and regularly donates clothes and toys to children in need.
Based on his experience, Mark was looking for new and different ways to continue charity work this summer. After he ran an end-of-the-school-year lemonade stand at his preschool, he got the idea to start a charity lemonade and temporary tattoo stand. According to Angela, “Mark really enjoyed running the lemonade stand at his preschool, and he loves temporary tattoos,” so he decided to combine those with his desire to help others.
Throughout the summer, Mark ran a stand accepting donations of $1 or more for lemonade and temporary tattoos at locations around Pasadena. Mark spent over five hours designing and creating the stand itself, and through a Facebook page, “Squeeze & Squish,” Angela spread the word about Mark’s charity fundraising events. Moreover, because out-of-state family and friends wanted to support Mark’s efforts, Angela created a GoFundMe page, and helped Mark raise $700 for the lemonade and temporary tattoo stand.
Mark set up the stand four times this summer, once at his house, twice at the Fairwood Swim Club’s busiest swim meets, and once at a family member’s house in New Jersey. His goal was to make $1,500 to buy the softest and squishiest stuffed animals to donate to children in local hospitals and the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Baltimore. According to Mark, he wanted to use the money he earned to buy and donate stuffed animals so “when kids are in the hospital and their dads and moms are not there, they have something to cuddle.”
Mark earned $2,075 from his lemonade and tattoo stand, crushing his original $1,500 goal. With his earnings, he purchased 325 stuffed animals, which he plans to donate to 54 families at the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore and local Anne Arundel County hospitals in September and again around the holidays. Overall, Angela and Mark are thankful for what Mark was able to accomplish this summer.
“Everyone has been very generous and very nice,” Angela said, “and if this little bit gives someone a smile and makes them happy through a hard time, then that is what it is all about.”
The generosity of family, friends, community members, as well as support from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, Lighthouse Church, Fairwood Swim Club and CVS Pharmacy was pivotal to Mark’s success this summer and he looks forward to organizing future Squeeze & Squish charity events.