A 6-year-old Georgia boy wanted to take a stand for children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border by raising money through a lemonade stand. Little did he know, he would raise more than $13,000 for the cause.
While Austin Gaggero, 6, of Atlanta, has been active in different social justice causes for much of his young life, he and his 3-year-old sister were especially affected when they began learning about migrant children as young as 18-months-old separated from their families upon entering the United States.
"I wanted to help get the kids out of jail," said Austin, who does not yet understands the words “detention centers," in an interview with InsideEdition.com.
His mom, Shannon Gaggero, explained that as a mother to young children, she also felt the issue hit close to home.
"I can only imagine the circumstances a family would be in […] to make that arduous journey to seek refuge in our country, and then be separated from their families, possibly to never be reunited — that’s devastating," Gaggero said. “I also felt like it was a cause my kids could really grasp, and understand, and take action on."
She said she asked Austin and his sister what they wanted to do to help, and Austin immediately suggested running a lemonade stand.
Eager to support their mission, Gaggero went online to see how she could help, and which of her friends and their children were interested in getting involved by helping them sell lemonade or contributing baked goods.
When a friend outside the Atlanta area asked how she could help, Gaggero extended their idea to the internet, starting an online fundraiser via Facebook to be held simultaneously to the lemonade stand.
“I set the original goal to $1,000 and I thought that was pretty ambitious," she explained, adding that she was shocked to see the amount continue to surpass their new goals. "It was really encouraging to see people who don’t necessarily get involved or take action move to do so for this campaign."
Online, the virtual lemonade stand made more than $13,000 after the week, and the Sunday lemonade sale brought in even more money to be donated to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based non-profit.
In a statement to InsideEdition.com, RAICES Director of Development Jenny Hixton thanked both Gaggero and her family for their efforts to raise money, adding, "The fundraiser is a resounding statement by thousands of people around the country that it's not okay what's going on at the border and that they want to join us in fighting back."
Hixton explained the money will go toward legal representation for immigrant families.
"We’ve worked in this field since 1986 to stand with families at every stage of this journey at the border, in detention and in the courtroom. And last year, our staff closed 51,000 cases at no cost to the client," Hixton said.
In addition to a financial donation, Gaggero said she and her kids hoped the fundraiser would be a message that the separated families are still on the minds of many Americans.
"They’re not forgotten and there are people who will continue to fight for them," Gaggero said. "Of course, I hope they are reunited with their families as soon as possible and that they receive the best treatment possible in these facilities."