Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brothers work to raise money for sister’s school

Landon students start a shaved ice business to help pay tuition

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Many middle school students baby-sit or mow lawns over summer vacation to earn extra spending money.

Adam and Jonathan Holland have a more ambitious goal. The brothers started a business in hopes of raising more than $20,000 — a year’s worth of private school tuition.

The two brothers, heading into sixth and eighth grade, respectively, at Bethesda’s Landon School, recently opened AJ’s Hawaiian Iceez, a shaved ice cart that travels throughout the metro area selling cool treats.

‘‘We would go to camp at Landon and see the Clayboy’s stand with lines 30 or 40 minutes long,” 12-year-old Adam said of the Bethesda Hawaiian ice vendor Clayboy’s, which sets up shop in downtown Bethesda and also visits area camps. ‘‘People liked it so much, and we got the idea to start one.”

And when the duo’s younger sister Zoe, 8, was accepted to Norwood School in Bethesda, the brothers wanted to help their parents pay for the tuition. Zoe was accepted late in the application process, said Robert Holland, the boys’ father, and there was no financial aid available.

The boys wanted their younger sister to have the same educational opportunity they had, and concocted a way to give back to their parents.

‘‘I’m so proud of them,” Robert Holland said. ‘‘They work so hard at all of this, and it’s for their sister.”

The boys, Zoe, and their parents have traveled to a few different events in the area recently, including church carnivals, a sports camp and a computer camp. This past weekend AJ’s made its way to a car show in Charles County.

Since the stand opened in May, the boys, with Zoe’s help, have made more than $2,500. And while the goal of $22,000 — a year’s tuition at Norwood — s still far off, Jonathan, 11, said he thinks they can make it.

‘‘It’s going to be tough, but we hope to have two or three gigs a week soon,” he said. ‘‘We’re trying to make enough money to get more flavors, too, so people have more to choose from.”

Jonathan said the process for making a Hawaiian Icee is simple: Pack the ice into the cup, pour flavored syrup over top and enjoy. He said to make sure the ice is packed in tight, though, or the syrup won’t stick.

The stand offers a variety of flavors: apple, lime, banana, coconut and red watermelon just to name a few.

The ice machine cost $1,700, and the boys sell the treats for $3 and $5.

As for the name, AJ’s Hawaiian Iceez, the AJ stands for Adam and Jonathan and as an ode to their sister, Zoe, the boys added the ‘‘z” at the end of iceez.

‘‘We just saw how many sacrifices our parents made to keep us at Landon, and we decided we had to give them more money,” Jonathan said. ‘‘We wanted to make sure our sister could go [to Norwood].”

In terms of sacrifice, the boys know something about it already. Since they live in Prince George’s County, Adam and Jonathan wake up at 5:15 a.m. every school day, when their father drives them to their grandmother’s house in Upper Marlboro. From there, their grandmother drives them to Landon on her way to work in Rockville. By the time the boys get home around 6 p.m., it’s almost time to start the process again.

‘‘We needed a school that would challenge us,” Adam said.