By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
MILTON — A five year-old Milton boy’s hot cocoa stand has turned into a big fundraiser for a good cause Friday afternoon — after his stand had been shut down two weeks ago by police because it was deemed a traffic hazard.
Isaac Martin, his mother Kitty, and several other neighborhood friends were operating the stand near their home at the corner of South Third Street and Mahoning, to raise money through a “Penny Power” campaign, organized by their church, Community Mennonite Fellowship in Milton.
The money would be donated to the Mennonite Central Committee, which operates programs worldwide to provide basic needs to people, specifically food, according to the group’s website.
“Which is why Isaac wanted to get involved,” Kitty said. “He’s five and will only start kindergarten next year. He had no idea that kids like him, the less fortunate, go to bed hungry. It really surprised him. Among his friends, no one went to bed hungry.”
It’s good for kids to learn that people don’t all have it as good as they do, she continued.
“I want to help people who are hungry not be hungry any more,” Isaac said Friday.
Two weeks ago, they raised $41 and change. This Friday, they raised $384.
“People have been amazing,” added Bryce Martin, Isaac’s father. “This is something that turned into something bigger than we ever could have imagined.”
South Third Street is an extremely busy road, and essentially serves as an off ramp for people driving north on Route 15. “So I can understand why the state trooper asked us to stop; I really do,” said Kitty. “There can be a lot of traffic here, fast-moving cars.”
Still, she said, walking from the corner with Isaac back to their house two weeks ago was one of the hardest things she had to do.
“I called it the walk of shame,” Kitty said. “Isaac was bawling. Crying uncontrollably. He must have cried for half an hour. He didn’t understand why the police officer had told us to stop. He was most upset because he figured he didn’t help enough people. And I was so sad, seeing him cry.”
The ensuing publicity — in The Daily Item and on Facebook — energized the community and on Friday, they tried it again, in a side street off South Third, near where the Martins live.
Isaac, meanwhile, loved the process, jumping around, accepting money, thanking people.
“He is a natural born salesman,” said Bryce. “Look at him. He’s just expecting the people who stop to donate and he is very very appreciative.”
The most amazing thing happened early into the day, Kitty said. “An older man, a complete stranger, came up to us and asked for the young man who is selling the cocoa. I think he saw the story in The Daily Item. And he puts a hundred-dollar bill in our collection jar. Then he takes a cup of cocoa and drives off. I have no idea who he was.”
Kitty said that not only the weather had cooperated for what she is now calling the “First Annual Isaac Penny Power Campaign,’ but it’s good to have so much support. Last time, I had to do it alone with Isaac and some neighbors. Now, my husband is here and others.”
Across the street from the Martins, Melissa Keister and her kids, all in costume, held up signs asking passersby to stop and donate. Imagine Batman, Iron Man, Captain America and even Darth Vader asking you to stop, “you’d have to, right?” smiled Melissa Keister.
The thing is, people have been so generous, said Kitty.
Meanwhile, Isaac was in full sales mode when a Honda SUV drove up. “Thank you. Thank you,” he said, handing the woman inside cocoa.
“He’s incredible,” Bryce said.