CORDOVA — Sitting in the shade of a tree at Cordova United Methodist Church, Tyler Hall waves at every vehicle that passes by.
In his non-waving hand, the 14-year-old holds a handmade sign offering lemonade for 50 cents per cup. On the table sits a pitcher of pink lemonade and a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts coffee dispenser, which holds the regular stuff.
A voice, that of his grandfather, comes over a two-way radio sitting in his metal cash box, asking if he’s OK and if it’s sunny or cloudy. The skies were a bit overcast Tuesday.
“Finally, one day the sun’s not out,” he replies with a slight chuckle.
He’s out there nearly every day, weather permitting, after doing his chores around the house.
The straight-A student, on his way to Richmond Early College High School, is trying to raise money for school clothes as he has the past two years. He’s also working to pay off an $855 scooter.
His grandfather, Michael Hall, already bought the scooter and is making him work it off.
“You’re gonna put that money back in my bank account before you get that scooter,” he said he told his grandson. “I just tried to teach him what I learned when I delivered the Daily Journal. I’ve tried to instill that work ethic.”
Tyler, who now lives with his grandparents, has had an “uphill battle” throughout his life due to various family situations.
“He has come through a great deal to be the person he is,” said his grandmother, Sunny Hall.
Richmond County sheriff’s deputy Cory Jones and his wife Faith had occasionally stopped to buy a few cups for the family, but when they learned his background, they decided to do a little more.
Jones started by calling fellow deputies to ride over and make a purchase from the teen who said he’s wanted to be a police officer since he was 6 years old.
The Joneses have also planned an event for Saturday — selling hot dogs, chips, desserts and, of course, lemonade — to help Tyler out.
“The outpour of the community has been overwhelming with people wanting to help,” said Faith Jones, whose brother set up a GoFundMe account that has raised $30. “I feel it’s our job to show love and compassion.”
The deputy said he doesn’t want to overstep his bounds, but is “just trying to be his friend.”
“He’s working his rear end off to try do the right thing,” Cory Jones said. “Him trying harder than some adults says a lot about him.”
Jones said kids Tyler’s age generally go down one path or another and he’s glad to see that the only thing the boy is selling is lemonade.
“The only thing we can do is give him a chance,” he said. “What he decides to do with it is up to him.”
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.