By Vic Diaz (@TheVicDiaz)
The historic Rives Mansion in the city of Downey, CA played host on Nov. 22 to what was being billed as, “The Biggest Little Lemonade Stand,” a fundraiser to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines. The mansion’s owner, Ralph Verdugo, offered lemonade as well as other items in exchange for donations from patrons who visited the 100-year-old house, which is soon to be created into a steakhouse and wine garden.
Verdugo commented on the motivating force behind his decision to assist the relief efforts. “After watching all those scenes on TV and on the news, to see all those children walking around with no parents and no guidance, it’s horrifying,” Verdugo said, “I know people are doing things to help, but the more, the merrier.”
To provide incentive for visitors to give what they could toward the cause, Verdugo offered private tours of the mansion, complete with original fixtures and furnishings that were put in place by James C. Rives, the mansion’s original owner.
Those who attended the fundraiser alongside Verdugo were professional boxer Abner Mares and local radio personality Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander, who were providing autographs and photographs with fans in exchange for donations to assist the relief efforts.
Alexander, the host of the syndicated radio show, “Big Boy’s Neighborhood,” attended the event at Verdugo’s request, and stated that he did so in order to truly contribute to those who needed the assistance. “When Ralph called me and asked me to come out to the mansion and told me that 100 percent of the proceeds went toward Typhoon Haiyan, I said ‘I’ve got to be there.'”
The radio personality used his own show as a means to promote the event and reach out to his local and online audience, “We did a few soft radio spots, but you can only put out so many public service announcements, so we heavily used social media to get people out here,” he said.
Alexander also shared his empathy toward the victims in the Philippines, “When you see devastation like that, you have to think, those are your brothers and you have to help them, so that’s what I do.”
Verdugo commented on his target goal for the day’s fundraiser. “My target is $50,000, but if we even get $1, that’s $1 more that they’re going to have,” he said.
Verdugo also reached out to close friends and relatives, who donated toward the cause.