Published July 1, 2019 at 9:32 am.
Story by Misty Jackson-Miller. Photos by Stephanie Daniels.
On a hot, muggy morning in June, the lemonade stand outside the storefront of Elite Kutz in Plano was doing a brisk business. The booth was well-constructed with a carefully painted blue and yellow frame. Next to it, a long folding table, which sported a placard and glitzy beads and small colorful jars of Play-Doh—not to mention the large beverage dispensers which were filled with citrus refreshment. Three young volunteers stood behind the table, ready to serve, and passerbys lingered at the table to savor the experience. Despite the heat, the atmosphere at the lemonade stand was light and festive.
One man, a regular at the barber shop, gave an unknown bill to a mom at the table. She offered to get him a glass of lemonade, but he shook his head. “I don’t need lemonade,” he said, nodding at one of the young volunteers behind the table. Twelve year-old Jaxson Turner quickly left his post to shake the man’s hand and thank him for his donation.
Last year, Jaxson’s lemonade stand raised approximately $4,000 for his back to school project. That worked out to four carloads of school supplies and free haircuts/styles for 107 underprivileged Collin County students. As a result, all of these students could return to school looking their best, feeling their best, and ready for the challenges of the new academic year. This year, Jaxson is working to raise enough money to assist 125 students.
Jaxson was 11 years old when he founded his non-profit N2Y2C. He created the name “to inspire kids and show them that you are never too young to care.” It all began as an idea when he was 10. He told his mom, LaKeicee Turner, he didn’t want gifts for his birthday. He wanted to provide a warm, Easter dinner to homeless Dallas residents instead.
“I wanted to make God proud,” Jaxson says. “God likes it when you help one another. There are so many homeless people you don’t know about–who they are or why they’re homeless. For me,” he continues, “it’s seeing people on the streets. I want to give them food, something to eat.”
From that point on, Jaxson dedicated himself to serving others. His charitable organization N2Y2C sponsors four big projects throughout the year, and events like the lemonade stand are how Jaxson raises money for each of these projects. For the Christmas project, N2Y2C organized a Christmas party for homeless children at the Samaritan Inn, which included dinner and activities and gifts for the kids. Prior to that event, he met with Mayor George Fuller of McKinney to tell him about the project and to ask for words of encouragement.
Jaxson had made such an impression on the mayor, that he and his wife Maylee were now among the volunteers serving lemonade this morning. “It’s easy to say that Jaxson is an inspiration to young people,” says Fuller, “But he’s an example to all people, to everyone. A lot of grownups can learn something from Jaxson. There is a bright future for him in this country.”
Candice Cantu of Plano, a close friend of the family, was also at the lemonade stand that morning with her daughter to show their support. “We’re here to support Jaxson,” she says, “and to support a good cause. We wanted to show how proud we are of him.”
A lot of planning has gone into these summer fundraisers, not to mention the time spent in ordering and delivering the bundles of school supplies—and Jaxson has been spending his summer vacation planning the events, printing and distributing fliers to get the word out, purchasing supplies for the lemonade stand, and running a sophisticated social media campaign to promote N2Y2C’s Back to School project.
LaKeicee Turner, Jaxson’s mother, says that in the two weeks leading up the Luby’s Fun’raiser, Jaxson was distributing fliers around Plano for seven or eight hours each day. “For him, it’s like a full-time job,” she says. Turner’s at the lemonade stand that morning, greeting family and friends and visitors alike. She’s one of the people who inspires Jaxson. So is Barack Obama.
Jaxson is just out of earshot when asked how Jaxson inspires her. “Oh, I can’t, I’ll start crying!” she exclaims. After pausing for a moment or two, she adds, “Jaxson thinks about it, and he makes it happen. He follows through on his thoughts.” One thing she wants people to know is how “respectful” Jaxson is of people’s privacy, especially the privacy of people they meet who are living in crisis. He insists on “taking pictures with people’s permission—he gets it.”
Turner also mentions Pay it Forward Friday, and how her son tries to encourage others to show a stranger a random act of kindness. One Friday morning, at a bagel shop in Plano, Jaxson turned to the customer behind him line. He offered to pay for his bagels. That customer then offered to pay for the woman behind him in line, and just like that, Jaxson had set off a chain reaction of customers paying for each other’s orders. Eventually, the shop’s manager approached Turner and Jaxson and said he had to ask the customers to stop—the staff was having too much trouble figuring out who was paying for what.
Inside Elite Kutz, owner Jimmy “Red” Thomas is straightening up the back of the barber shop. Not only did he make the space in front of his shop available to N2Y2C for the lemonade stand, but his shop will also be providing the haircuts/styles for the benefitting students. For him, the decision to support Jaxson was easy. “It’s the fact that he’s so young. Not a lot of kids his age do that. Just seeing that he wanted to do something—he asked, and I said, ‘of course.’ I just wanted to support him.”
Whether it’s strangers at a bagel shop, or family and friends at a lemonade stand, Jaxson truly has a gift for bringing people together to support a common cause. The marketing team at Office Depot provides N2Y2C with free printing. For the Luby’s Fun’raiser earlier in June, Luby’s donated 15% of sales. Ye Olde Butcher Shop donated smoked chicken quarters for the Easter dinner at Dallas LIFE shelter. And this list is by no means exhaustive, because when Jaxson tells people about N2Y2C, they want to help. “I just think a lot of people are really generous,” Jaxson says. And it’s as simple as that.
Want to support N2Y2C’s Back to School project? Jaxson’s lemonade stand will be popping up outside of Elite Kutz every Saturday through the month of July, from 9 am-2 pm. Stop by for a glass of lemonade and follow N2Y2C on social media for updates about Jaxson’s latest fundraising goals and to find out how you can help!
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