Ten-year-old Brayden Trullinger whizzed along Woodland Avenue in Eau Claire’s East Side Hill neighborhood on Saturday, one hand gripping his bike’s handlebars and the other clutching a walkie-talkie buzzing with messages from his pal Nolan Dervetski.
His scouting mission brought him past various neighbors out on their front lawns, to whom he’d ask, “You gonna buy some of our lemonade, or what?”
A couple of blocks down, Nolan, 10, and Elias Ford, 9, manned a lemonade stand that stocked yellow and pink varieties of the summery drink. It was a busy day for a lemonade stand: 140 of their neighbors had possessions lined up on their driveways and lawns as part of this year’s East Side Hill Neighborhood Thrift Sale. Hundreds of bargain hunters strolled the streets over the course of the day.
While it was a good day to make some cash, the kids don’t plan on keeping the dough.
“We just (want) to get a lot of money and give it to Devyn,” Elias said, holding up and examining the plastic tupperware that held their earnings so far.
Devyn Nelson, 9, is Nolan’s neighbor. Devyn has scoliosis, and his mom, Chrissy Nelson, said her son has been so sick the last couple years he hasn’t been able to get out of bed.
Nolan, who attended kindergarten and first grade with Devyn, said he and his friends decided to dedicate their earnings to Devyn to help his family.
“I know him really well,” Nolan said from his perch on a lawn chair. “I’ve read to him, gone over to talk to him. I know that he’s been in bed for, I don’t know, as long as I can remember.”
The trio charged 50 cents per cup, although they said most customers volunteered to pay more than the asking price. They ran out of red SOLO cups by early afternoon and sent an adult helper to the store for more.
Nolan and his friends have run a lemonade stand before, they said, but sales were already higher than usual for their Saturday afternoon gig.
Chrissy Nelson didn’t know her son’s friends were planning to donate their proceeds to Devyn until she came outside to say hello.
“How does it make me feel? Not forgotten,” she said, wiping away tears from her eyes.
“There might be bad kids in the world, but look at these guys,” she said. “Their hearts are so full of love.”
Elsewhere at the sale, shoppers were on the lookout for good deals.
With a cup of lemonade in hand, Jessica Vollmer, 31, and her brother, Jonathon, 27, both of Eau Claire, perused for items to fill her photography studio. Jessica Vollmer said she hadn’t yet found anything among the “modge-podge” of items, but was happy to buy lemonade and tamales from a nearby home.
“I’m just kind of on a walk,” her brother joked. “If she buys something, I’m here for the lifting part.”
Among the participating sellers was Sara Heuer, who said this year marked her third time participating in the massive annual thrift sale.
Her driveway contained various pieces of furniture and other household items. By Saturday afternoon, Heuer said about 300 shoppers had stopped by her home. But aside from making sales, she said community building is the main reason she continues to participate.
“It’s being outside with your neighbors,” she said. “It’s very community-oriented on the East Hill.”
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