NELDON: When life gives you lemons…

Even the most optimistic among us will concede that 2020 has been ridden with challenges. In less than half a year, we have faced a global pandemic, massive changes to our culture and lifestyle, an economic crisis and political division worse than I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.

As we have already learned, these broader issues have created a ripple effect in just about every corner of our lives. From psychological distress to struggling to put food on the table, Americans — and people all over the world — have faced levels of pain that would knock (and has knocked) just about anyone to their knees.

So what do we do?

Delanie Dutoi, an 8-year-old from Buchanan, has the answer many adults have struggled to find: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

On two 80-degree summer days this week, Delanie set out to solve a problem near to her heart: making sure her friends and neighbors can find their next meal. Her solution did not require any long conversations or shouting over political quandaries. All it took was a homemade sign, some cups and a few pitchers of lemonade.

In a “commercial” posted to her mom’s Facebook page the day before the big sale, Delanie told viewers, “I’m having a lemonade stand at my house tomorrow. It starts at 3 and I’ll be out until my bedtime.”

Delanie encouraged everyone to come out to buy lemonade or donate items to Redbud Area Ministries’ food pantry, a cause she connected to through her Girl Scout troop.

When she donated her proceeds to RAM, director Jan Nowak called Delanie a “super hero” who is “small but mighty.”

As the saying goes, Delanie took a sour experience — her “lemons” being the food insecurity problem many face in the greater Buchanan area — and turned them into something sweet — her “lemonade” being not only a solution to the problem (helping to fill pantry shelves), but also a lesson to all of us that we have the ability to make a difference.

Facing major challenges these last few months, many have stepped up like Delanie to help those who are suffering and pitch in and solve problems. We have seen folks sew and donate masks, make hand sanitizer, find ways to connect even when physically separated, speak up for those whose voices are often not heard, and do their best to make change in the face of adversity.

Many, however, have given in to their circumstances, pouting, complaining and completely shutting down, which we all know solves nothing. We all deal with pain in different ways, and even the strongest need to cry and vent from time to time — it’s only human — but then we must learn to pick ourselves up and ask, “what can I do to turn my lemons into lemonade?

We can’t solve all the world’s problems, and these sweet solutions can never fully heal the pain caused by the pandemic and the political and racial disparities our country has faced the last three months.

But if an 8-year-old can stand out in the sun for two days to raise money for strangers, I’m certain we can all do our part to turn our lemons into something sweet.

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