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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Eitan, Elad and Liraz Shushan.

Naftali Fertig, D.J. Wartelsky, Eitan Shushan, Liraz Shushan.

If ever a day was made for playing hard it would be the last day of summer vacation. But six young people from three Teaneck families worked hard on Labor Day instead and raised hundreds of dollars for Houston’s recovery from Tropical Storm Harvey. Social entrepreneurs Eitan, Elad and Liraz Shushan, D.J. and Sam Wartelsky, and Naftali Fertig spent hours in the hot sun selling lemonade to drivers, pedestrians and even a crew of Teaneck firefighters. When they were done, they had raised $430 dollars, including a matching donation from an anonymous benefactor.

The Shushan boys and their sister Liraz poured the first cup of cold lemonade around 10 a.m., soon after setting up outside their home on West Englewood Avenue and Milford Terrace. When they shut down several hours later they had raised $75 dollars for Houston. By then, Naftali Fertig and D.J. Wartelsky, later joined by Sam Wartelsky, were about to open another stand one block up, across from Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, offering lemonade, iced tea and fruit punch, as well as some homemade baked goods. The Shushans rang their neighbor’s doorbell to contribute several unsold muffins to the new effort. Later, when they learned about the anonymous pledge to match whatever the Wartelskys and Naftali Fertig raised, the Shushans purchased lemonade from their friends and threw in their entire $75 as a “tip.”

Many customers told the young sales team to keep the change. And on and off throughout the day, customers “paid it forward,” several of the boys reported, paying for drinks for people who followed them. “Even if you give a tiny bit, it still helps,” Sam Wartelsky observed.

Extra excitement was injected into the day when the Teaneck Fire Department’s Engine 4 rolled up.

“They got out of their truck and I was planning on giving them lemonade for free, because they’re firefighters, and, you know, they’re heroes,” said Naftali Fertig. But “they come out and they’re complimenting us, like, ‘if only there were other people doing this.’ So, I told them about my friends who had done this, the Shushans and my friend Ethan,” selling lemonade in front of his house in Bergenfield. The firefighters paid for their drinks with a $5 bill and returned to their fire engine without asking for change.