What Patriotism Looks Like: A 6-Year-Old Raised $13,000 for Migrant Kids

This week’s Recharge focuses on people in America who dream big…and pandas!

The lemonade stand in Atlanta, Georgia. Courtesy of Shannon Cofrin Gaggero

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Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets last weekend to demand the Trump administration reunite kids and parents who were separated at the border.

A 6-year-old boy in Atlanta also had an idea: Make money by selling lemonade, and give it to someone who would help the families.

By last week, he and his family had raised more than $13,000—some through lemonade and bake sales, but the vast majority from a fundraiser on Facebook, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The money is going to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, a Texas-based legal services nonprofit helping immigrants, refugees, and children.

Had it with the political fireworks? This Fourth of July week I’m focusing on people in America who dream big. Oh, and we’ll have pandas, too. Happy holiday! Recharge is a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. You can sign up at the bottom of the story. 

  • Mowin’ in the USA. Rodney Smith Jr. cuts lawns for free for anyone who needs help, including veterans, single moms, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Smith, originally from Bermuda, says he’s going to all 50 states this year, using social media to solicit suggestions for which yards to cut. In addition, Smith has gotten 130 kids aged 7 to 17 to pledge they would help neighbors in need. They each promised to cut 50 lawns this year. “A lot of people take pride in their yard, and it feels good to see that I made a difference,” Smith says. (Washington Post)
  • A frontier, a dream. Brilliant and audacious, Constance Adams grew up drawing skyscrapers. A visit to NASA’s Johnson Space Center changed her life and stirred dreams for America that stretched to Mars. The space architect, who died on June 23 of colorectal cancer, designed an ingenious module to house astronauts. A scaled-down version of it has been licensed from NASA by a private space company. Architecture enthralled her, she said in 2017. Why? “I knew that if I did that,” she said, “I would never be bored.” (New York Times)
  • Making it smaller. A research scientist was reading an article and got irked. Why do drug companies make eye droppers so big that you waste at least half of the dose? “My reaction to the story was, ‘How do I stick it to the drug companies that are trying to screw over the patients?'” So Allisa Song, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Washington, got a team of pharmacology, bioengineering, and MBA students together. They designed an award-winning affordable, universal adapter for eye drop bottles. The invention, called the Nanodropper, cuts down the droplet size. “We have been contacted by so many patients and ophthalmologists since the story was published,” Song, whose team is seeking funding to manufacture the Nanodropper, told me early Tuesday. “The stories shared with us reminded our team of why we started this project.” (ProPublica)
  • Good news for pandas. As promised, we couldn’t end this week’s Recharge without some news about these cute black-and-white animals from China. Fewer than 2,000 pandas are left in the wild. A study led by a group of Chinese researchers says conserving land for pandas—considered an “umbrella species”—also helps other animals, such as golden monkeys and snow leopards. Conserving panda habitat also leads to more protected land, as well as opportunities for recreation and tourism.  “The take-home message [of this study] is, it is worth it,” Ronald Swaisgood, one of the study authors, says. “It’s worth saving these endangered species because we benefit and nature benefits.” (Mother Jones)

Thanks, pandas—and inventive, optimistic people (I’m talking to you) for giving us a bit of hope. Have a good week. 

Have a Recharge story of your own or a suggestion on how to make this column better? Fill out this form or send a note to me at recharge@motherjones.com

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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