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Pay It Forward: Lemonade stand for house fire victims

lemonade stand
Todd Kunz

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KXPI) - Lemonade stands pop up everywhere during the summertime, but Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz found one that is a little unique. All the money raised is going to a family in need. Kunz stopped by to talk to the kids in charge to find out why they are doing it and to Pay It Forward.

Kunz and Angie Phillips from Mountain America Credit Union walked up the driveway of the home to the lemonade stand. Ten-year-old McKel Wheeler and her seven-year-old brother Bentlee are hosting this lemonade stand all summer long for two Bonneville County Sheriff's deputies that lost their home to a fire last month.

"Hi McKel. Are you the manager of this lemonade stand?" asked Kunz.

"Yes," said McKel.

"Excellent," replied Kunz.

"Well, what are doing here with this lemonade stand?" asked Phillips.

"Uhm, we're gonna try and donate as much as we can still," said McKel.

"What are you donating for?" asked Phillips.

"Uh, we're donating to Jason White. His house burnt down," said McKel.

Jason White's family lost their home to fire in early July. Deputy White is with the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office and is also the organizer of Bikers Against Bullies. His wife, Teresa White, is also a sergeant. They have two kids, but all of their belongings were destroyed in the fire.

"How do you know him?" asked Kunz.

"Because he came and talked to us when we were getting bullied and he helped us," said McKel.

"Because he helped us when I was getting bullied," said Bentlee.

"Yeah, he came and talked and bought lemonade with the bikers and told them how to handle it and he made an impact on them. So that's how she started this whole thing. She wanted to give him her $26 that she had from the beginning and then just decided to do a fundraiser," said Jayme Wheeler, their mother.

"OK. Are you thirsty?" asked Kunz to Phillips.

"I'm thirsty," replied Phillips.

"Tropical punch for me," said Kunz.

"That sounds awesome," said Phillips.

"Two tropical punches," said Kunz to McKel.

"Would you like ice?" asked McKel.

"Yes, please," said Kunz. "Thank you so much," he said to Piper, as the young neighbor handed him his cup full of tropical punch. Piper was helping with the lemonade stand that day.

"You're welcome," said Piper.

"Thank you," said Phillips, getting her cup.

"How much are the two cups?" asked Kunz.

"A dollar fifty," replied McKel.

"A dollar fifty?" repeated Phillips.

"For both?" asked Kunz.

"Yah," said McKel.

"OK," said Kunz.

"Since you are working so hard to raise money for Jason when he lost his house, and we think that it's amazing that you want to give back to your community that way. We wanted to Pay It Forward today to you with $500 in exchange for two lemonades," said Phillips to McKel, as she reached into her purse and brought out an envelop of cash.

"Oh my goodness," said Jayme.

"Thank you," said McKel.

"Does that work? Is that a deal?" asked Phillips.

"Yah!" said McKel, with a surprised look on her face.

"There's not a lot of good in this world anymore. And I'm teaching my kids that you've got to give back. There's people that don't have as much as you do. Actually, I want to teach them work ethic because a lot of people don't like working anymore and I've taught them that they need to work for what they have. It's not given to them," said Jayme.

"I will try to come and see you today, OK?" said Jason White on speaker phone call.

"OK," replied McKel, holding the cell phone.

"You're awesome," said White.

The lemonade stand is location at the corner of McKenzie Avenue and Custer Street in Idaho Falls.

There were no injuries to humans in the house fire, but it was reported that one cat did not survive, another cat and two dogs did make it out OK, but the home is a complete loss. Damage is estimated at $115,000. Central Fire is working with the state fire marshal to determine the cause of the fire.

"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at

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Todd Kunz

Todd is an anchor for Local News 8.


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