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Katie’s Lemonade returns for another year

A children’s playground. New library books. A trip to see “Peter Pan.” Metal benches. A podium.

To the casual observer, these things have nothing in common. But for Phil Campbell’s Katie Smith, they represent the fruits of six years of a labor of love for her community.

Smith has hosted Katie’s Lemonade every year since the tornado ripped through her small town, taking two of her friends. She said she thought raising money for the community would be a good way to help – her own personal way to show her love for the community.

“Most of my friends play baseball for Phil Campbell. That was their thing,” Smith said. “They had a lot of spirit for the school. I don’t play sports, so I figured if I could show my spirit for the school by raising awareness and money and giving back, and that would show my spirit for Phil Campbell.”

Aided and encouraged by her father, Max Smith, and her grandmother, Martha Smith, Katie sells cup after cup of $1 Minute Maid lemonade and also accepts donations, in addition to selling Katie’s Lemonade T-shirts.

“It was Katie’s own idea to start this,” Martha said. “We’ve supported her in any way that we could – helped her set up and helped her sell.”

Martha said Katie has said all along that she wants to keep doing the lemonade stand until she graduates from Phil Campbell.

“There’s not words I can say – it makes me so happy to see that she wants to help someone or something,” Martha said.

Katie’s Lemonade sets up first thing in the morning during the Hoedown and sells lemonade until mid-afternoon, under the water tower. This year’s proceeds will go toward a new podium for the high school, suitable for auspicious occasions like graduation night and the Shelby Grissom fashion show, a suggestion from Principal Gary Odom.

“Our best podium that we had got blown away in the tornado,” Katie said.

When at the elementary school, Katie’s projects benefited her fellow PCES classmates. PCES Principal Jackie Ergle said Katie was given an Outstanding Citizenship award for her continued efforts for Phil Campbell.

“She was just really dynamic at such a young age to think of giving of herself,” Ergle said. “She’s very committed to helping others … You don’t see someone at the early age that Katie was that just loved helping others. She just has that trait about her that you don’t see in kids at that age.”

For Katie, it just makes sense to reach out and do what she can for her community. “It’s my home. It’s such a small town, but a disaster such as the tornado doesn’t tear Phil Campbell apart – it brings us back together.”

And she wants everyone to join her in in rallying together for the community.

“I’d like them to come by and buy a cup of lemonade or just come and hang out,” she said. “The Hoedown is a really fun experience for people of all ages.”

The Hoedown is set for June 17-18.