Three Village annual fundraising event ready to take a bow

Three Village annual fundraising event ready to take a bow

Joseph Mastriano, third from left back row, and Maddie Mastriano, second from right in back row, with friends during their first lemonade stand fundraising event in Stony Brook’s S-section in 2013. Photo by Alyssa Melillo

It’s been said that all good things must come to an end.

Joseph and Maddie in 2017 when the Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand was first held on the grounds of R.C. Murphy Junior High School. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Joseph and Maddie Mastriano, organizers of the Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand fundraising event, are currently planning the ninth and last one. The annual event, which to date has raised more than $100,000 for Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, will be held Aug. 9 at R.C. Murphy Junior High School.

Maddie, who will be turning 21, is attending Loyola University in Maryland and is a rising senior majoring in advertising and public relations. Joseph recently graduated from Ward Melville High School and is set to attend Stony Brook University in the fall. While he is undecided on his major, he is minoring in video game design.

The Mastrianos said the lemonade stand will leave them with tons of good memories due to the community members, local athletes and even celebrities who came out to show their support.

“I like to see everybody who comes to support us,” Joseph said, adding he realizes many are going out of their way from work or taking time out of their busy days.

Maddie added that friends and families have even come out of state from New Jersey and Connecticut to show their support. One highlight through the years was Chef Barret Beyer, from “Hell’s Kitchen” Season 11, helping them make a special fruit lemonade.

She said visits from Cheryl Pedisich, Three Village Central School District superintendent, are always appreciated as she has supported the endeavor since the beginning. Maddie added she also loves it when Joan Alpers, director of Child Life Services at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, stops by.

Alpers said Joseph and Maddie are “amazing young people with, I imagine, extremely wonderful careers in front of them.” She said while the ending of the annual event is bittersweet, she hopes more young people will be inspired by the Mastrianos’ work.

“I’m so excited for all the good work that Maddie and Joseph have done, and I’m wishing Joseph a wonderful college career, and at the same time it’s bittersweet,” Alpers said. “We have had such a great connection with them, and we’ve not only enjoyed them but they’ve been so helpful in the community for us. But we understand that kids need to move on.”

Children playing with lemonade-colored slime at the Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand Aug. 8, 2018. Photo by Amanda Perelli

The fundraising event began in August of 2013 when the siblings decided to make lemonade and sell it outside their home with some friends. At first, they thought of splitting the few dollars raised between friends, but their mother suggested donating it to charity and they chose the local children’s hospital.

“If I were to go back into my 11-year-old self, I don’t think I would have imagined this lasting more than a summer,” Maddie said. “I couldn’t have seen it going the way it’s progressed, and I think it’s just a reflection of the community.”

Formerly known as the S-Section Kids Lemonade Stand, the booth attracted more and more people each year. Hundreds of residents from all over the school district and even local celebrities came to their home in 2016. Knowing that the lemonade stand was attracting too many people for a neighborhood booth, the Mastrianos moved the event to the grounds of R. C. Murphy Junior High School in 2017, and 500 people attended over the course of another hot August day. Besides lemonade, the kids have expanded to offer food, activities and live music, and also in 2017 they were among TBR News Media’s People of the Year.

Also, that year, the siblings began finding sponsors for the event. Many local businesses as well as larger ones such as Chick-fil-A and Island Federal Credit Union pitched in to help.

Bret Sears, president and CEO of IFCU, in an email statement said the Mastrianos approached them a few years ago. 

“Remarkable is the word that comes to mind when asked about Maddie and Joseph Mastriano,” Sears said. “Two young kids who had a goal of helping those at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, and who have let nothing stop them from doing just that — not even a pandemic. When Island met them a few years ago and learned about their cause, it touched our hearts, and we knew becoming their corporate sponsor was something we needed to do.  It just felt right.  They certainly are two role models whom the youth of our communities should strive to emulate, and we are truly proud to call them our partner.”

In addition to all their sponsors and volunteers, the siblings said they are especially grateful for their parents and the support they have given them from their first lemonade stand.

“They’re just so supportive, and I don’t know who else would just willingly give up their front yard like they did those first couple years,” Maddie said.

She added that their parents have always been there to help to drive them around and in any way they could before, during and after the event.

“They just help us do everything they possibly could with keeping us as the lead and letting us guide them,” she said.

Maddie said it’s been surreal seeing some of the volunteers growing up, from elementary school children to young teenagers in middle school.

“It’s really cool to see how we’ve helped impact others and helped shape them wanting to give back to others in the community,” she said.

Joseph echoed the sentiment.

Police officers from Suffolk County Police Department’s 6th Precinct enjoy some lemonade in 2019. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“It’s just a nice experience to see how much everybody really cares about helping the community,” he said. “I love seeing the teamwork of all of our volunteers trying to make the event better, and then I love seeing just random community members coming in to try to help us.”

One volunteer who has been helping out the last few years is neighbor Courtney DeVerna, 11. Courtney said while she is sad that it’s ending, she is also proud of everything the lemonade stand accomplished.

“I just think that Joseph and Maddie are great people for doing this for so long,” Courtney said.

She remembers going to the lemonade stand when it was first held in front of the Mastrianos’ house.

“My mom told me when you get older, you’ll be able to volunteer, and I felt like I could do something for the community, and it was not only that, it was just so much fun,” she said.

Maddie said Aug. 9 will be an emotional day.

“Everyone uniting for the cause that we find so special — it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words.”

Last year, the siblings along with family members and friends were able to hold the event in a modified way despite the COVID-19 pandemic. During the afternoon, they hosted a drive-thru event at Murphy with fewer volunteers and later that day a virtual event that featured a Minecraft version of the stand. Despite the changes, the lemonade stand raised $35,000 for the children’s hospital.

As of now, the Mastrianos said they have to follow the same format this year but, if guidelines change, they do have a plan for a more traditional event. The goal is to raise $50,000 this year and fundraising has already begun with a GoFundMe page and teams from each school who are vying for the annual Lemonhead award that is given out to the team that raises the most money.

The siblings said they won’t forget how the community, elected officials, student-athletes and more who have supported them. Most of all they have been left with life lessons.

For Maddie, she said working on the lemonade stand shaped her college major as she has created the graphics for the posters and T-shirts.

“I think it really has helped me see that I can do advertising in the future if I really want to,” Maddie said. “I don’t know if that’s the path I’m gonna take, but it has shown me that I’m capable of doing that if I end up wanting to.”

For Joseph, he said it has helped him get out of his shell.

“I was a very, very shy kid,” he said. “I still kind of am, but the lemonade stand definitely threw me out there into the world.”

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