Many people feel called to serve others at some point in their lives, although it’s often not until adulthood. But for Winston-Salem native Tori Robinson, the calling to help came much earlier.
It started three years ago when Tori, then a first-grader, saw a news segment on childhood hunger in the United States. According to the report, nearly 16 million kids in the U.S. are “food insecure” (roughly 1 in every 5) meaning their families don’t regularly have enough food. The statistic had a profound effect on Tori, and she talked to her mom about ways she could help. Her mom told her that children who don’t receive enough food and proper nourishment do not do as well in school.
“That’s when I thought that maybe the best way for me to help would be to start right at my own school (Friedberg Elementary),” Tori says.
Since school was nearing summer break, she and her mom decided to hold an end-of-year food drive on the school grounds. They also set up a lemonade stand as part of the drive, and the money raised was turned over to a local charity. The success of the lemonade sales led to the launch of Tori’s Lemon-AIDE Stand, which now operates as a nonprofit.
In the three years since, Tori, who’s now 10, has set her stand up at locations throughout the region, from the Food Lion in Welcome to PDQ Restaurant in Winston-Salem to Fashion Week in Charlotte. Proceeds are given to various local groups working to combat childhood hunger, such as Greater Things Outreach and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. Her latest donation was to Mile 2 Church Food Bank, which used the donation to purchase nearly 700 pounds of canned food.
In addition to Tori’s Lemon-AIDE, Tori also uses her platform as a pageant contestant to spread awareness about childhood hunger. She was recently crowned
Old North State Pre-Teen United States and traveled to Florida to represent North Carolina in the 2018 Miss Pre-Teen United States pageant.
When she’s not selling lemonade or competing in pageants, Tori spends most of her time dancing. She’s been involved in dance since age 2 and is currently enrolled in the Preparatory Ballet Program at UNCSA. She says she’d love to be a Rockette when she grows up, but she has a pretty good backup plan in case that doesn’t work.
“My dream job is to work as a pediatrician in a third-world country,” she says. “I learned that third world countries don’t have the same resources we do, and oftentimes children don’t survive due to the lack of medical care. I’d love to help provide care for those children and make a difference in their lives.”