Topeka (KCTV) — A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her.
Jayden Sink raised nearly $200 Friday while she sold lemonade outside the Equality House across from the Westboro compound, and the online effort has raised nearly $15,000. The efforts have clearly irritated Westboro members, Equality House resident Davis Hammet said.
"She was so awesome. She was such a sweetheart," Hammet said. "She was right in front of this hate group. She was unfazed and unafraid, and they are so very vile and rude to people."
Because of the backlash from Westboro, Jayden's father, Jon Sink, founder of the philanthropic arts group, FRESHCASSETTE Creative Compassion, is declining media interviews. The family lives in the Kansas City area.
Planting Peace, which promotes peace and equality issues, bought the home across from Westboro's compound. It was painted in March to reflect gay pride colors.
Jayden told her father that she wanted to set up a lemonade stand to help a charity. After doing research, they settled on Equality House. She arrived about 11:30 a.m. Friday and set up shop. She set up hand-made signs including one that said, "Pink lemonade for peace. $1 suggested donation."
Hammet said he saw Westboro members pacing up and down the sidewalk and repeatedly making phone calls. He believes they tried to call the police, who declined to shut down the lemonade stand.
"They use every legal power possible to shut down any kind of opposition," he said.
He said they also yelled rude comments at those buying the lemonade.
A group of motorcycle riders from Fort Riley came by and bought lemonade, and also ruffled the feathers of Westboro members, Hammet said. One soldier stepped on Westboro property while taking pictures, prompting at least one person to yell profanities at the soldier, who responded that he fought for his freedoms, Hammet said.
Westboro has yet to return a tweet from KCTV5.com seeking comment. The group's account repeatedly tweeted a picture of wording on their marquee outside the compound. The wording, which uses a homosexual slur, says homosexuals and their enablers will burn in hell and "lemonade won't cool any tongues."
After the Huffington Post picked up the story about Jayden's lemonade stand, donations picked up. The goal was originally $500.
"It just resonates really well," Hammet said. "But we were shocked by how much money it raised."
He said it's crazy the remarks that Westboro members have made about Jayden and her lemonade stand.
"Jayden is 5 1/2 years old. She was having a lemonade stand for charity and they are saying nasty things," he said.
In addition to Equality House, Planting Peace runs orphanages, has helped treat 14 million for intestinal parasites, helped preserve 600 acres of rainforest and planted trees in earthquake-damaged Haiti.