This was reflexive for Johnny.
While many people whose homes are intact have moved on from the storm, Johnny knows something about perseverance. He knows more than most 8-year-olds about compassion and surviving trauma.
“Being 8 years old, he’s experienced a lot in his lifetime,” said his mother, Donna Karlinchak.
Four years ago, he lost his 6-year-old sister, Kelly, in a car accident, and the neighbors rallied around Johnny and his family so much that they did not have to cook a meal for nine months. He saw his neighbors help raise $38,000 for a huge, state-of-the-art playground structure dedicated to Kelly at the swim center where the family plays.
Likewise, in the aftermath of her daughter’s death, Karlinchak started to come out of the darkest time of grief by extending herself to children in need.
She would regularly have Johnny around as her assistant. He would count the pajamas they were donating to a pajama program or tag along with her to a shelter.
“He just wants to help,” Karlinchak said.
The first day Johnny put up the lemonade stand in his community of cul-de-sacs and red brick ranch-style homes, he made $21 — after standing outside for an hour in the 104-degree heat.
He took another good look at his neighbors’ home and realized that they probably could use more than the $22.25 he had given them. He went out with the stand a few days later and made $108, and on Saturday he pulled in $233.
Johnny’s blond hair was sticking to his forehead with sweat Saturday as he poured lemonade and calculated his customers’ totals. Many of the neighbors who streamed by dropped extra cash in his jar.
“I gave more than enough for my lemonade and two cookies. The other day I did the same,” said Marian McLaughlin, 58, who added that she came to support both families. “This is a wonderful neighborhood.”
Johnny’s older sister, Katie, 13, spent two afternoons making the cookies — chocolate chip, colored sprinkles and even pink lemonade. The goodies were each 50 cents.
Many of Katie’s friends came to help and hold signs Saturday, including Claire Hollinger, 13, who said Johnny is like a brother to her.
“Even though he gets on our nerves, I’m really proud of him,” said Claire, whose eyes filled with tears as she spoke about how fast Johnny is growing up.
Then she went to hug him and he darted to the ground with a smile to avoid her hug.
The crew was being supervised by Donna Karlinchak, 44, who stays home with her children, and Steve Karlinchak, 45, an officer with the U.S. Capitol Police.