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Mae & Friends return for sixth annual fundraiser

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Mae Holyoak laughs while holding a cat up for adoption during the sixth annual Mae and Friends lemonade stand at the Natchez Convention Center on Friday afternoon. All proceeds raised during the fundraiser will be donated to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Mae Holyoak laughs while holding a cat up for adoption during the sixth annual Mae and Friends lemonade stand at the Natchez Convention Center on Friday afternoon. All proceeds raised during the fundraiser will be donated to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

By April Garon

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Diane Hammers did not come to Mae & Friends Lemonade Stand expecting to adopt a kitten, but the protest of her granddaughter Ruby changed her mind — Hammers left with two.

“I had my purse full of cookies and crafts that I bought,” Hammers said. “Then Ruby fell in love with a longhaired, gray kitty, and I have such a soft spot for the tabby.”

Nine bright-eyed young volunteers known as the “Lemonade Girls” offered up lemonade and an opportunity to help shelter animals at the event Friday afternoon.

The stand, which is in its sixth year, plans to donate all the proceeds from the event to the Natchez-Adams Humane Society shelter, as they have every year before.

The girls sold not only lemonade but also a variety of baked treats, crafts and their newest addition — T-shirts. The shelter had kittens available for adoption at the stand as well.

“I tasted the sugar cookies; they are delicious,” Lemonade Girl Addison Laird said. “They are very popular — we only have a few left.”

The event has grown steadily each year. In 2008, the fundraiser made $275. Last year’s stand made nearly $2,700.  Event organizer Ginna Holyoak said she hoped to top last year’s amount.

“It’s going to be the best year so far,” Holyoak said. “We had 53 sponsors donate $100 a piece, and expect to make between $2,000-3,000 from the stand’s sales today.”

Holyoak said Friday night the total raised was $7,200.

But Holyoak said the stand doesn’t just help the shelter grow, but the Lemonade Girls as well.

“The girls learn from helping the less fortunate, it builds character,” Holyoak said. “They have compassion for the animals.”

The stand’s namesake and Holyoak’s daughter, 10-year-old Mae, said helping the shelter is important because she wants them to euthanize fewer animals.

“Shelter dogs are loyal and tough,” Mae Holyoak said. “Most of my pets are shelter animals.”

Ginna Holyoak said as the fundraiser has grown, the shelter has come to count on them. She can think of many charities that deserve help, but Holyoak said this one tugs at her heart.

“At the end of the day when we count the money, I will think about the animals I will never be able to meet who were in the shelter through no fault of their own,” Holyoak said. “The amount of support we have received puts me in such awe.”

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