Savannah Zeaman is a prime example of how one can never be too young to help others.
Shortly after her kindergarten teacher lost her battle with cancer, Zeaman, who is now finishing up her eighth-grade year at Klinger Middle School in Southampton, began running a lemonade stand outside her house each fall to raise money for cancer research.
“She was the first person that I was close to that had passed away. After she died, I started my lemonade stand because I wanted to do something so that nobody, no families, had to go through that. I know it was hard for me, and she was just my teacher. I wanted to help,” Zeaman said. “One day she was there, and the next she wasn’t.”
To date, the young Warminster resident’s initiative has raised nearly $6,000 for the American Cancer Society and, after a family friend also lost his cancer battle, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
For Zeaman, her heartfelt project means even more this year. In addition to benefiting cancer research, her lemonade stand efforts are aiding the local COVID-19 response.
It was recently announced that Zeaman was recognized as a 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Award Youth Volunteer, for which she was granted $2,500 to donate to an area nonprofit associated with the pandemic. As one of her state’s top youth volunteers of 2020, she also received a $1,000 scholarship and an engraved silver medallion.
Zeaman decided to give the $2,500 to the frontline workers of CHOP.
“They are focusing on COVID-19 in addition to many other things,” she said. “So, I thought that it’d be best for me to donate there because the money is still impacting COVID-19 research, but also cancer research.”
Along with her fellow awardees hailing from across the country, Zeaman was honored on May 4 during the 25th annual, and first-ever virtual, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards national recognition celebration. During the three-day event, the students shared details on their projects and chatted with actress Kristen Bell, who answered questions and provided tips on volunteering.
The school board of the Centennial School District also honored Zeaman during a virtual meeting on May 12.
“Savannah is clearly a super neat young lady,” praised Superintendent Dr. David Baugh. “We are very proud of her and her many accomplishments working so hard for so many years.”
According to Zeaman, the national recognition celebration armed her with knowledge on how to expand her project and make an even bigger impact.
“When I was on the call for the award with the other people that won, there was another girl who did a lemonade stand and she raised a lot because she got sponsors from other organizations that helped her,” Zeaman said. “I got to learn a lot about what other people do and it inspired me to do more this year and in the future. I want to try and spread it around more and get people to know about it more so that I can raise more money.”
Her goal for 2020 is to raise over $1,000, which was the grand total in 2019. Last year, Zeaman added a new component – a clothing drive.
“Before, I used to make crafts every year. But at that point, there were really no more things I could do because everybody already had a bunch of the magnets and there weren’t that many more ideas,” she explained. “I made more money from the clothing drive than I would’ve made from the crafts.”
Despite the unforgettable recognition, Zeaman is remaining humble. At the end of the day, her initial goal remains the same – to prevent another family from losing a loved one to a horrible disease.
“I love the feeling of helping others. I have learned how many things I take for granted and how amazing it feels to share what I have with others,” Zeaman said. “The real reward for me is to see the impact that it has. The fact that I was recognized for it, it was a good feeling.”
To learn more about Zeaman’s lemonade stand, visit facebook.com/SavannahsLemonadeStand/
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org