NORTHVILLE — Cousins Elleah Whittaker and McKenna Forsey’s first summer job turned into something much more than that.
Whittaker and Forsey, 10 and 9 years old, respectively, were looking for a way to exercise their enterprising spirits this summer, and branched into a way to help those in their small, lakeside community. It started with a lemonade stand raising money for a local food pantry, and expanded into an effort that raised nearly $1,000 in July to support the family of 2-year-old Judah Frederick, who is battling brain cancer.
Everything started with a FaceTime chat between the two.
“We were like, ‘You know, it would be fun to have a summer job,’” Whittaker said.
The two kicked around a couple ideas, starting with a bake sale, but eventually settled on a lemonade stand as their best option, setting up shop on Friday mornings throughout July in front of C&H Fundraising on VanArnam Avenue in the village.
As they progressed, the stand moved from just lemonade to popcorn and chocolate, as well as homemade crafts like earrings and bracelets as the two began to dub their enterprise “Crazy Cousin Design,” with the duo sporting tie-dyed shirts as they opened up shop.
The cousins started out with the idea of using their lemonade stand to raise money for Northville’s Bread of Life Food Pantry, with their first week of sales allowing them to donate $45.
But, when word of Judah Frederick’s battle with brain cancer reached them, the girls knew they had a different purpose in mind.
“The food pantry is great,” Whittaker said, “but I think Judah needs it more.”
“They [the Frederick family] have to get money for gas, food, hotels and the medical bills,” Forsey said.
Forsey and Whittaker changed gears to raising money for the Frederick family before their second weekly sale, which took place on July 17.
That week, the pair raised $381, followed by another $320 the next week and $200 on July 31, making a grand total of $901 raised — so far.
The two were extremely pleased to see the way the community responded to their grassroots efforts, which were fueled by social media.
“There’s a lot of people in the community on Facebook,” Whittaker said, “so they saw it on Facebook and were like, ‘Let’s go help out.’”
The “Crazy Cousins” are far from the only people in Northville doing their part for the Frederick family. A GoFundMe campaign started in July has raised more than $11,000, with a goal of reaching $20,000.
Forsey and Whittaker want to keep chipping in as well. The two have plans to open up Crazy Cousin Design for a couple more Fridays in August, doing their small part to help out a family in need in the few weeks left before returning to school in September.
“The last few weeks of August we’ll be doing it,” Whittaker said. “Then, we’ll have school starting back up and it gets busy again.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.