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Local 8-Year-Old Uses Slumber Party As Fund-Raiser For Katrina Victims

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hart simpson, lemonade stand
CARY, N.C. — Hart Simpson celebrated his eighth birthday this weekend with a slumber party.

But go back about a week, before the slumber party, when he was planning the event with his mother and when he was trying to understand Hurricane Katrina's destruction.

"I was sad," he said. And Hart, a student at St. Mary Magdalene in Apex, also knew he was lucky.

There were children who lived in areas hit by the hurricane who might be having birthdays as well, he had told his mother, Kelley Simpson. And these children, he said, might not be able to have a party. They might not even have a house.

Hart wanted to know: "What can I do to help?"

His mother suggested he forgo birthday gifts. Instead of gifts, she said, he could ask his friends to bring donations to his party.

"You can use that money to help those children," she told him.

He said, "OK."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"I have enough toys."

But the slumber-party fund-raiser wasn't enough, he said.

So Hart, with the help of his 4-year-old brother Sam, set up a lemonade stand in his Cary neighborhood.

On Saturday, Hart and Sam served free lemonade to neighbors, and they asked for donations.

"We're not surprised Hart wanted to do this," Kelley said, "but we were amazed by the generosity of the neighbors."

Neighbors donated up to $20 for a glass of lemonade, and Hart and Sam raised $300 in just two hours. His slumber party brought in an additional $140.

Hart will hand deliver the donations to the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army this week.

"He wants to do it every weekend, and he has asked my husband to start a Web site that keeps track of his events," Kelley said. "He's really driven."

Why is Hart so driven?

"So the victims can have a home," he said.

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