HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — When 10-year-old Luca Marchelletta began a summertime business venture common with children his age, his mother figured he would spend, what was expected to be, his meager earnings on Legos or possibly a new videogame. But what Brianne Marchelletta didn’t expect, was for Luca to raise nearly $1,000 and use it all to buy a bulletproof vest for a police dog working for the local sheriff’s office.
Luca kickstarted “Lucas Lemonade” in the summer of 2022, and his mother, Brianne, said it surprised everyone when he made $60 on his very first day of business at his Mechanicsville home. As business wound up for the day, Brianne asked her son what he planned to do with his earnings – his response would become the catalyst for quickly reaching a goal rather uncommon for other children his age.
“Thinking he would be done with his mission I asked him what he wanted to go buy but his response was a complete shock,” Brianne explained. “He said that he had seen a news story recently about a police dog that had been shot and killed while on duty and that some police dogs don’t have bulletproof vests. So, he said that he wanted to buy and donate a bulletproof vest for a police K9 so they would be protected.”
Brianne saw Luca’s sincerity and determination in reaching his goal and decided to find out just how it could be reached.
“We did the research and learned that it would be about $800-$1000,” Luca’s mother stated. “I was worried that raising that amount would take a very long time and he would become discouraged. However, he quickly proved me wrong.”
A few weeks later, Brianne said her son once again gathered the chairs, table, signage and of course lemonade, Luca set up his business venture in the family’s yard. But this time, Luca had a bit of help advertising his mission after his mother posted his goals to a community Facebook page.
“Within minutes of posting people began praising his cause and showed up to lend their support,” his mother explained. “He even had a state trooper show up with his K9 partner to thank him for his efforts. After four hours that day, he earned about $500!”
After that, Luca became more determined than ever to reach his goal. He decided to move to a more prime location, at the entrance of his neighborhood, in order to be seen by the highest number of potential customers and enlisted the help of his friends, Drew and Ryan, and his younger brother, Zachary. Within three hours, Brianne said the children had worked together to succeed in achieving Luca’s goal of raising the $800 needed for the bulletproof vest.
“The community response was so generous as many people just showed up to thank him and donate their money and wanting nothing in return!” Brianne exclaimed.
Luca and Brianne worked with their local sheriff’s office to iron out the details of ordering just the right vest for the lucky pup, Yoshi. After months of delays, the vest arrived in early January.
The boys were all finally able to see the fruits of their hard work on Jan. 31, when they met with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and successfully gave K-9 Yoshi his new life-saving vest.
As for Luca’s plans for the future, his mother says he wants to continue raising money for more police dogs and also items for children with special needs in his community. Luca talks about being an engineer when he grows up so he can design better ways to help the military and police.
“He never misses an opportunity to thank anyone wearing a badge or uniform for their service,” his mother said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the kindness that he shares so easily.”