BLUFFTON — It had been a few tough days at the Mustard Seed Cafe, but then another “small business” stepped up to lend a hand.
A neighborhood lemonade stand, run by four children, collected $10 to donate to the Main Street restaurant that previously fell victim to a break-in and vandalism.
“It just seemed like a real sweet thing to do, something we never really expected,” owner Dick McGarrity said.”It really lifted our spirits at a time when they needed lifting.”
McGarrity and wife, Jayne, opened the breakfast and lunch restaurant in the old train depot in March. On May 29, they came to work finding a mess. Someone had broken a widow, entered and threw food around the business. It took two days for staff to clean the mess and re-open.
Frank and Rebecca Oaks and their three children are friends with restaurant Chef Rhonda Moor and heard about the break-in. Jay, 10, Drew, 9, and Regan, 8, all pupils at Bluffton schools, had planned a lemonade stand, the first of the year. Jay decided they should also ask for donations for the restaurant. Friend, Isaiah Mikesell, 8, also helped.
“We just felt bad for them,” Jay said. “I just like to help others. It makes me feel kind of happy.”
Mom made the lemonade for the stand, and the children collected snacks to sell, too. Everything cost 50 cents. Dew did his part largely by purchasing a few snacks for himself, and Regan hit the street looking for customers.
“We put a sign up and I went to house, to house, to house, to house,” she said, making sure t0 mention that she and a friend recently made and sold kites, sending the $6 proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Rebecca Oaks wasn’t surprised by her children’s eagerness to help. The family attends Lima First Assembly of God Church.
“It was Jay’s idea, and that is very typical for him. He is very compassionate and always thinking of others,” she said. “I am very proud of them. I love that they have a giving heart.”
There are more lemonade stands ahead this summer for the children. Jay has held onto $250 of birthday money and last summer's lemonade stands. He said knowing he had saved so much made the decision to help the restaurant an easy one.
Mustard Seed Cafe staff sent certificates of appreciation to the children, but they are quick to say the free desserts were the favorite tokens of appreciation.
“I picked the best one, a strawberry muffin,” Regan said, as her brothers began raving about their chocolate and orange doughnuts.
McGarrity was surprised when the glass jar of coins appeared at his restaurant. While the village was “a buzz” about the break-in, he never expected help like this.
“We were feeling kind of down at the time. We all had worked so hard to get the cafe opened again,” he said. “It just seemed like there are some bad things that go on in this world, but there are an awful lot of good things, too.”