In her own words: “Any kid can change the world,” and 10-year-old Delanie Dennis has proven this to be true through the impact she is making in the lives of animals all over Tampa.
As the host of Delanie’s Lemonade Stand inside Cafe Delanie, where 100% of the proceeds of select menu items, donations and sales of dog toys (handmade by Delanie) go directly to helping animals, she is committed to making a difference and wants everyone to know that “every little bit helps.”
Since April 2019, Delanie has raised over $34,000 for organizations and nonprofit rescues that directly benefit the welfare of animals in the greater Tampa Bay area. From mini pony nibbles and skunk kisses to hanging out with the K-9 Unit of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Delanie’s advocacy has allowed her to experience what every animal lover could only dream to do. And with her optimism, hopefulness, and joyfulness, this little girl is everything adults could wish to be.
Julie: What you’ve accomplished in almost three years is impressive for anyone at any age! Tell us how Delanie’s Lemonade Stand started. What motivated you to become active, and why lemonade?
Delanie: The lemonade stand idea started when I was reading a book called “Alex and her Amazing Lemonade Stand.” After I was done reading that book, a few hours later I was watching TV, and I saw a sad commercial from the Humane Society that had so many sad animals. And that’s what motivated me – that, I really had to do a lemonade stand.
Julie: How do you choose the group or animal type you want to work with? How long does a fundraiser last?
Delanie: Well what we do to choose a group is: Me and my mom research a few different rescues. We read all about them, and then I pick the charity. We also make sure that they’re a real nonprofit, and we call them so we know that they’re able to do it. A fundraisers lasts for one month, and all the proceeds in that one month go to that one animal charity. At the Cafe, we have a special menu that changes weekly and includes lemonade with three different food dishes.
Whatever is bought off of that menu goes 100% to the animals. As well, we have a daily special Monday through Friday that 100% supports the animals. And we post that information on the Cafe Delanie Facebook Page. I share that in the Cafe as well when I am there on Monday and Tuesday.
Julie: How do you set goals for each fundraiser? What type of research do you do ahead of working with a nonprofit partner?
Delanie: When we are about to work with a nonprofit, we research and read everything about them and see what type of animals they have. We also look and see if there are any sick or any hurt animals in their rescue, and we share them on the Facebook page as well. With each fundraiser, we try to get to at least $1,200. When the Lemonade Stand in the Cafe starts to get a bit slow, I’ll make dog toys, cat toys and bracelets and sell them to get a bit more money for the nonprofits.
Julie: Do you feel like other kids can relate to or appreciate what you’re doing? Have any friends joined you in your mission or helped with any of your efforts?
Delanie: I do think that some kids can relate to what I’m doing, but some kids don’t exactly understand— and that’s OK. Some of my friends helped with this mission by donating and coming to some of my events. Ever since I’ve been in school, I’ve been sharing a lot of things about the animals and the lemonade stand. And I’ve been telling everybody: Adopt, don’t shop! Adopt from shelters instead of buying from pet stores.
Julie: How many pets do you have? Have you ever adopted from the rescues you’ve partnered with?
Delanie: I have 18 pets, and I adopted from the rescues I’ve partnered with five times. I’ve adopted from sanctuaries, the Humane Society, Florida All Retriever Rescue, Forever Home Animal Rescue and RVR Horse Rescue.
At RVR, where we adopted our horse from, we also have monkeys, ferrets, sugar gliders, kinkajous and a lot of different types of animals. (At RVR, we are permitted to assist with rescuing exotics as well, but we don’t get too involved with that side of it as much because of their needs.) When it comes to regular household animals, we’ve rescued all different kinds—horses, cats, dogs, turtles, sugar gliders, pigs, guinea pigs, horses, cat, dogs. We’ve got it all!
Julie: What is the plan for Delanie’s Lemonade Stand in 2022?
Delanie: My goals are to keep on spreading the word about animals, get another adoption fair done, get a lot more animals rescued and get to at least $40,000 because that is going to make me feel super good. I wake up really good in the morning just because I know animals are being helped every single bit of the day.
Originally Published in the February 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.