He visited Hawaii for a vacation with his mother, now an area ravaged by fires and met the boat guide whose home was destroyed by the flames.
An 8-year-old with a lemonade stand in Central Park, New York City, is showing us what the implementation of the phrase "a friend in need is a friend indeed" looks like. Julian Lin is doing everything he can to help raise money for people affected by the Maui wildfires in Hawaii.
Lin and his mother, Julie Meerschwan, visited the fire-ravaged area in February and met a boat guide called Ryan. His house was destroyed by the flames that engulfed parts of the island. Ryan's uncle went missing as well after attempting to save the burning house. Lin, who also works as a young entrepreneur performing various other services under the alias Julian Bussiness Man, is collecting funds for Ryan and others impacted by the flames through a GoFundMe campaign.
Lin is working hard for his age. At the age of seven, he is working 12 jobs but managed it all by giving in 20 minutes of his time to each of them. He works at several establishments in the neighborhood, including fruit stands and bakeries, when not in school. He refers to himself as a businessman because he is in charge of three businesses: J's DINR, a delivery-only restaurant he runs from his house, a seasonal hot chocolate stand and of course, the lemonade stand. He buys lemons in quantity from the fruit markets where he works, makes his own lemonade and sets up stalls in various locations.
The proceeds from the lemonade sale and GoFundMe will benefit three different charities: Ryan and his family, Maui United Way and the Maui Humane Society. About Ryan, the campaign page reads, "He let me help him light the torches at our hotel. Ryan taught me how to say ‘Aloha’ with passion. Aloha means hello in Hawaiian, but it also means Love. He said it's the most important word in the Hawaiian language. Ryan also lent me his fishing gear for free so I could go fishing in the Pacific Ocean. I hope you can all help me help Ryan, his community and the island he loves."
Within a few days, he was able to cross the target and raise more than $5000. Lin's mother claimed that $2,408.50 of the proceeds have already been donated to "intended causes." Ryan also seems to be utterly grateful. "We spoke with Ryan on FaceTime. He could not stop crying. He feels utterly devastated but also hugely cared for and moved by your help. His uncle is still missing, but they haven't found his remains yet so they are still holding out hope," the page reads.
Lin hopes that their resilience helps them prevail, just like it did for him after his lemonade stand money was taken a few months ago. "Generosity to me is like breathing. If you make me not be generous, then I'll die," Lin told ABC affiliate WABC-TV. "It's shocking and it's devastating, and I am bleeding for the people there," Meerschwan added "and we want to make any small contribution that we can."
The Maui wildfires are the deadliest in the United States in more than a century, with at least 96 people killed. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association, the latest fire has killed more people than the 2018 Camp Fire in northern California, which killed 85 people. According to CoreLogic, which publishes property data reports, the fires caused an estimated $1.3 billion in damage to roughly 3,100 houses. More than $1.1 billion in damage was done to almost 2,800 residences in Lahaina alone.