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TOPEKA, KS (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 $15,000 and counting.
"Jayden and I went out there to raise money for Planting Peace, to spread love, to spread compassion," said her father, Jon Sink. "Our mission was not to stand up to Westboro Baptist Church."
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."
Jon Sink, founder of the philanthropic arts group, FRESHCASSETTE Creative Compassion, spoke with KCTV5's Bonyen Lee via telephone. The family lives in the Kansas City area.
Jon Sink said he is uncomfortable with the attention his daughter is getting, particularly after the backlash from Westboro.
"It really puts me in an uneasy position, knowing she's out there for everybody to see," he said.
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 because of its mission and efforts, not its location across from the Westboro compound, her father said.
"She saw pictures of it and thought it was the most beautiful house in the world," Jon Sink said.
The father and daughter arrived about 11:30 a.m. Friday and set up shop. Jayden 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.
Jonathan Phelps, son of Westboro founder Fred Phelps Sr., said the lemonade stand has given the church "a great preaching opportunity."
"Because every time you tell the story about the lemonade, you have to tell about the eternal hatred and wrath of God towards the impenitent sinner, and the popular sin of the day is the sin of sodomy," he said.
The group repeatedly tweeted a picture of wording on their marquee outside the Westboro 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. "I pity them. It's sad they feel that way. We're not angry at them. We don't hate them. We feel bad for them. We know this comes from a very painful place and that's why they're lashing out. And it's unfortunate."
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.
To donate to Jayden's Pink Lemonade Stand for Peace, click here
The money will be used for an anti-bullying program in Topeka as well as a national effort to educate children about the devastating effects of bullying.
Westboro members have become infamous for their protests at military
and other funerals, as well as their hate speech involving homosexuals.
Their protest at military funeral even went all the way to the U.S. Supreme
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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