Bulgaria has weighed heavy on Bethany Sutton’s heart since high school, when she traveled there for a mission trip. Fast-forward to today and Bulgaria is now more a part of Bethany’s life than she ever anticipated. Bethany and her husband, Andy, are in the process of completing their family through adoption from Bulgaria. While they wait to bring their child home, the Suttons wanted a way for their three biological kids (Addy Rose, 7; Abe, 5; Cora, 3) to feel connected to the adoption process and help other orphans around the world. “I think it’s beautiful that AGCI gets kids involved, because sometimes we—the parents—forget that we’re not the only ones waiting for our child to come home. Our biological kiddos are waiting for their brother or sister just as much as we’re waiting for our son or daughter,” Bethany said. They knew they had the answer for how to get the whole family involved when Bethany’s friend Courtney McArthy, who is also adopting from Bulgaria, had a suggestion—they should host a lemonade stand.
“Courtney’s husband Matt is a part owner of a car dealership and so we decided that we’d have the lemonade stand there,” Bethany said. Thanks to the car dealership’s high traffic area, the Sutton and McArthy families figured they’d have the opportunity for a lot of exposure. Courtney then decided to put an ad in the local newspaper to help spread the word. “When she went in to talk to The Carmi Times about an ad, they were so excited that they asked if they could just do a cover story on the lemonade stand,” Bethany said. “They said that they always have to tell bad news and they were excited to tell some good news.” Bethany and Courtney had no idea just how much their local community would continue to help out.
On the big day, Courtney, her two children, Mattie (8) and Macie (4), and Bethany and her three kids all arrived early on the morning of Friday, June 26th to set up and sell lemonade, cookies, and coffee to aid orphans. Just as they were setting up, storm clouds appeared. “We took a minute to get together with our kids and just pray that no matter what the weather did, God would be glorified and that He would use whatever money we made for His glory,” Bethany said. Fortunately, the sun then came out and together, they ran the stand from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. During that time, a local radio personality also told listeners to head out to the lemonade stand. “There were so many ways that God had His hand in that day,” Bethany said. “We had so many people just come up to us with $100 and give us a hug and encourage us in what we were doing.”
The lemonade stand was not only a way for the Sutton and McArthy kids to get involved; it was a way for the entire community to help out. “I think that a lot of people want to get involved but they just don’t know how,” Bethany said. The lemonade stand gave the local community a chance to learn about the orphan cause and gave them a tangible way to help. “People can easily come and buy a glass of lemonade. A lot of people just don’t know where to send money or how to help. It’s so great to be able to buy a glass of lemonade and know that that money will go to help orphans.”
The Sutton and McArthy families reached their goals—raise funds and awareness for orphans in a way that included their children in the experience. “Our kids had such a fun time. They each had their own individual job at the lemonade stand. All five of them had one thing that they were assigned to and they just had a great time working together,” Bethany said. “It was such a neat way for them to feel like they’re doing something while they wait to help advocate for orphans.”
At the end of the day, the Sutton and McArthy families’ lemonade stand raised $1600 to benefit orphans! Bethany and Courtney never expected to raise as much money as they did and were amazed by the support of the community. “We live in a really small community and people just kind of rally around each other for causes,” Bethany said. “We really feel like it’s not only our families that are adopting but the community is excited about welcoming them home as well.”