Repaying a debt of gratitude, one lemonade at a time

Eight-year-old Johnny Karlinchak is selling lemonade to support a neighbor whose home was damaged in a recent storm. He says he's just giving back to someone who helped his family. CBS

(CBS News) SPRINGFIELD, Va. - The first thing to know about the bustling lemonade stand is that it was Johnny's idea.

For 8-year-old Johnny Karlinchak, it's a serious fundraising endeavor, with every cent going to the cause written on the money jar: Mrs. Myers Building Fund.

Mrs. Myers is Elissa Myers, a close family friend and neighbor. Three weeks ago after a violent storm pushed a giant oak tree into her home, Johnny came to donate his life savings: five quarters.

His promise: "I'm just getting started. I'll be back."

But what prompted the fundraising push. Johnny says he owes Mrs. Myers for what she did in a time of tragedy.

"She helped us and now it's time to help her," he said. "She gave us food and all this good stuff when Kelly died."

Johnny's sister Kelly was killed in a car accident four years ago. Their mother Donna Karlinchak, says the neighborhood response led by Mrs. Myers was unforgettable.

"The neighbors really came together for us, did anything they could -- grocery shopping, carpooling," Karlinchak said. "We didn't have to cook a meal for nine months."

So now Johnny's paying back -- and the community is all in. Neighbors have bought $800 worth of lemonade so far from Johnny and his older sister Katie. It's more than enough to pay the Myers' $500 insurance deductible -- not that Elissa Myers is counting.

"He was giving us money but it wasn't money," Myers said. "He was giving us Johnny. He was giving us from his heart."

That was worth a lot more than five quarters.

Almost every day, Donna asks her children what specific good deed they did that day. Johnny Karlinchak, it's safe to say, will nail mom's question tonight.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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