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From left, Elizabeth and Anika Pinke sold doughnuts and lemonade to raise money for their local food pantry. Katie Pinke/Agweek

Create goodness around you (doughnuts help)

My girls recently taught me a lesson about kindness, while raising $503.25 for the local food pantry. With an assortment of doughnuts and four gallons of lemonade, their doughnut and lemonade stand was open for business bright and early on their last day of summer break. This is their second year to raise money for the Wishek Food Pantry.

The doughnut and lemonade stand was all their idea, but I wanted to see if they were serious when they asked to do it again. On Monday, I gave them the task of weeding our flower beds and said I wouldn't order doughnuts until they did. My goal was to enforce the importance of earning the doughnuts, rather than thinking they were entitled simply because they were doing a good deed.

Some might think I'm hard-nosed, but I want to raise kind, appreciative kids who grow up to be thought leaders. Are my expectations high? You bet.

Two bee stings and one sliver in her hand later, Anika gave up on weeding. She had a rough day. Elizabeth kept at it until the flower beds were weeded.

Our friend, Kirk, at Ashley Super Valu, 26 miles away, got up at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to make five dozen fresh doughnuts. He made ours first to avoid peanuts in his commercial kitchen, which is important to us because we have a local friend with a life-threatening peanut and nut allergy. If you want to find goodness in the world, sometimes you have to create it yourself. Kirk did just that with five dozen fresh doughnuts and rolls. I met Kirk and then pulled up to our family business just before 7:45 a.m. With help from Nathan, the girls were set up and ready to go. They already had a customer.

Within 20 minutes, Kirk's fresh doughnuts were gone. I was at home working when Nathan texted to say one of his high school employees went to our local grocery store and bought every doughnut they had left to keep the girls in business a bit longer.

By midmorning, the second round of doughnuts were gone. Two friends joined their efforts and they continued selling lemonade until noon.

When you're creating goodness in the world, it's important to remember you will not and cannot please everyone. The girls added ice to the lemonade but that watered down the sweetness, according to one patron. A year ago, someone complained the lemonade wasn't cold enough. Next year, they plan to make the lemonade extra sweet and cold.

Last year, their efforts raised around $70. I was hoping they could double their donations this year. With $503.25 safe and secure in a manila envelope, I delivered the money to the Wishek Senior Center, which houses the food pantry. A gracious volunteer wrote down the amount and my girls' names and said he would deliver the money to the food pantry treasurer.

The world is full of good people. That day those people included the doughnut maker, the people who stopped to buy doughnuts and lemonade and the pantry volunteer. I saw goodness in my girls' eyes, who are innocent, sheltered and mostly unaware of the evil in the world. As they get older, I want to encourage them to continue to create goodness and spread kindness.

At lunch, the girls and their friends mentioned one woman who stopped by said the shelves are getting bare at the food pantry, so their timing was perfect.

Elizabeth, age nine, said, "I think we'll always remember this day!"

All of the girls beamed. Their timing was perfect in more than one way. I needed to be reminded of the goodness of people, from the kind hearts of my own daughters and their friends to the scores of people who gave cash, coins and wrote checks to support a doughnut and lemonade stand.

To find goodness, sometimes you need to spark it with your own ideas.