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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Boy’s hot cocoa stand in southwest Spokane has raised $300 to help people who are homeless

Jan. 1, 2023 Updated Sun., Jan. 1, 2023 at 7:59 p.m.

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Blaine Binger will be 7 years old next week, but he’s already thinking beyond his years.

He’s spent the last week outside in the cold for hours each day, selling hot chocolate to raise money for the homeless.

On Sunday morning, Anna McMullin and her family were on their way to church when they drove by the stand. They stopped so McMullin could hop out and buy four hot chocolates. She said she was excited to see the hot chocolate stand.

“We live right around the corner,” she said. “We thought we’d stop and support small business.”

Blaine’s Mom, Stephanie Binger, said the family just moved to Eagle Ridge development in southwest Spokane two months ago. She and her husband grew up in the area, but lived in Texas because of her job. When she got a new job that is remote, the family couldn’t pack fast enough.

“They wanted to get out of the tornadoes,” she said. “We didn’t need to be there anymore, so we decided to come back.”

Blaine Binger has always liked helping others, so no one was really surprised about his plan to sell hot chocolate to raise money.

“He always asks if we can stop and help the homeless,” she said. “He has a kind heart.”

The boy found a sturdy cardboard box and painted it red, attaching a piece of plywood to the top to make a sturdy table. He decorated it and arranged the candy canes and cupcakes he is also selling. His hot chocolate comes plain for $1 a cup or “special” with marshmallows, sprinkles, crushed candy canes and whipped cream for $2 a cup. The dog walkers that go by can also buy a pup cup for their four-legged companions.

“We have a couple repeat customers who get the pup cups,” she said.

Being outside with her son for the last week has been a great way to meet her neighbors.

“We still get quite a bit of traffic, which is a surprise,” she said. “We’ve met a lot of neighbors, a lot of kids.”

Though their location in the 6600 block of South Meadow Street is a little out of the way, signs placed on nearby streets point the way to the hot chocolate stand. Stephanie Binger said her son’s last day running the stand will be Monday, when he plans to be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Blaine Binger started his effort last Tuesday and said he thinks he’s had 100 customers. “I’m guessing,” he said.

No one has really been counting the number of customers, but he has raised more than $300 with his hot chocolate stand. His mother spread the word about his efforts on Facebook and said some people asked to send her some money online to be donated. She said she’s received nearly $300 that way.

Where the money goes is yet to be determined. Each customer is asked to vote on where the money will go, putting small slips of paper into a piggy bank for later counting. The options include Family Promise, Second Harvest, Blessings Under the Bridge and the Union Gospel Mission.

Stephanie Binger emphasizes that she does little of the work herself. She helps set up in the morning and heats up hot water. “I do most of it,” Blaine Binger said.

He was particularly excited the day a couple of police officers showed up, because he has decided that he wants to be an officer when he grows up. The letter carrier and the UPS driver who visit the neighborhood daily have become regular customers.

Though the current run of the hot chocolate stand is coming to an end, Blaine Binger said he plans to be back this summer with lemonade so he can once again help those in need.

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