Burlington resident Debbie Johnson said tragedy brings out the best in people, which is something she’s witnessed first hand with her children, Story and Jack. 

When 12-year-old Story first saw the damage from Hurricane Florence, she said she was shocked.

“You think of a hurricane, I was like, flooding? OK. Twelve inches of rain? That’s not that bad. Then you see pictures, and oh my gosh, that’s really bad,” Story said. 

After seeing the damage along the coast on the news in the aftermath of the storm, Story knew she wanted to help. 

“I think about what if that happened to my house? How would I feel? Where would we get that money to help?” Story said. “It made me really sad when I thought about it, especially if I was in that position, so helping people makes me really happy.”

“When Story first came to me, she had about 4,000 Pinterest ideas,” Debbie said. 

The Johnson family goes to St. Mark’s Church in Burlington, where a discussion on how people can help others sparked Story’s idea to help Hurricane Florence victims. She decided to hold a bake sale.

With assistance from her friends, Laura Lea Allen and Bacall Sellars, and her little brother Jack, she opened a lemonade stand and bake sale on the curb of her Burlington home. 

From Oct. 5 to 7, they raised $500 for the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund with the help of customers such as family friend Walter Boyd. Boyd said he’s happy to help the kids be activists for positive change.

“They keep me young and encourage me,” Boyd said. “It’s so nice to see young people just really being conscientious and getting involved in the local community.”

Boyd said he’s not surprised to see their efforts to help others. 

“It’s hard for me to think of them being as young as they are because they’re just so smart,” Boyd said. “They’re not your typical kids just interested in video games and chicken nuggets and stuff like that.”

Debbie and her husband Greg weren’t thrown off by their children’s bake sale plans. 

“Story would give you the shirt off her back. She is always wanting to help,” Debbie said. Greg added, “She’s got a big spirit and is always interested in people.”

Through this experience, Greg is learning from his childrens’ actions. 

“Story kind of taught me and helped inspire me to pay more attention and do more,” Greg said. “She’s shared a life lesson with me and I’ve grown from it, too.”

Life lessons aren’t all that Story is teaching her parents. They’ve also learned that sometimes a simple act can go a long way.

“A little lemonade stand can bring people joy,” Debbie said. 

While teaching her parents, Story also has some words of advice for people recovering from Hurricane Florence.

“Have hope and pray everyday,” Story said.

The Johnsons plan on delivering the $500 check to St. Mark’s Church this week. It will then be sent with other donations to the Disaster
Relief Fund.


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