A 7-year-old boy has caught the attention of his community for setting up a hot chocolate stand to raise money for a border wall. But not everyone who saw his stand has been supportive.
Benton Stevens from Austin, Texas, came up with the idea of wanting to raise money for the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border after watching the State of the Union address on Feb. 5, his mother Jennifer Stevens told KXAN.
Stevens said after her son begged her to let him set up the stand, the family decided to pitch in with making signs and hot chocolate to sell. Benton set up the stand at a Steiner Ranch strip mall on Feb. 16 and made $231 in sales in about an hour selling hot chocolate for $2 a cup, reported the news station.
Benton’s efforts were filmed by his father Shane and streamed on Facebook live and viewed more than 20,000 times as of the time of writing.
However, not everyone appreciated their efforts.
“People think he’s brainwashed,” Stevens said. “Well, of course, he supports Trump because we do, and he hears how we talk, and this and that. Call that brainwashing, but I call it parenting because we instill our values in him.”
Both Stevens and her husband Shane are active members of the Republican National Committee.
Stevens said one person even called Benton “a little Hitler.”
She said, “A guy pointed at him in his car and then he said that we didn’t like brown people. I don’t understand that at all.”
The family was also criticized online for their actions because of their political stance.
“I never realized parents would actively do something to get their child bullied, I mean honestly what do you think is gonna happen when his actual friends find out you let him do this, he’s gonna be a laughing stock,” one social media user wrote.
But Stevens told the news station that there were more people that were supportive of the family’s actions than against them.
“It seems like there are more people supporting it than against it but the people that are against it keep going and going and going,” Stevens said.
Benton, proud of your determination my friend https://t.co/cUF01VwJqA
— Rep. James White (@James_E_White) February 20, 2019
Some social media users praised the parents for instilling patriotism and family values in their children.
“Kudos dad & mom for engaging the children in the political world that we now live in. At a certain point, we as parents have to be the people in our children’s lives that do instill our family values and that instill the patriotism that is going to be so important to maintain a capitalist and free country. This is more than just a hot chocolate fundraiser. We are fighting to keep America great. Our children are the recipients of whatever we make happen in our lifetimes! They should be involved and they should be taught by someone other than a biased media,” one social media user wrote.
Stevens said that while Benton was operating his stand, there were some people yelling at the owner of the store that the stand was in front of. She said that even though the stand was not on the store’s property, her husband decided to close the stand down for the day, according to the news station.
Although the stand was closed, Benton continued to receive donations through his Venmo account from people who are supportive of his cause.
Benton’s father wrote on social media on Feb. 18, “He is now at $2221.33! :). Venmo account for out of town supporters or those that can’t make it by is @BentonsHotChocolateStand.”
Stevens told the news station that they are going to try to get the money to the border wall. She said, “There’s a GoFundMe page and we’re also part of the RNC and we’re pretty connected there so we will 100 percent make sure it goes towards the wall.”
Although members of the public can make donations to the U.S. government for “general use by the federal government,” with the funds “available for budget needs,” donating directly to the Department of Homeland Security would require approval from Congress.
On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to address the humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border and to secure funds for the construction of a barrier. The president made the emergency declaration a day after a spending bill that includes $1.375 billion in funds for the construction of a border wall passed by Congress.
Trump asked for $5.7 billion for the construction of the wall last year but negotiations fell through, resulting in a partial government shutdown. The president ended the shutdown by signing a temporary spending bill on Jan. 25 and gave Congress several weeks to come up with a deal that included the funds for the border wall. Trump promised to use his executive powers to find the funding if lawmakers failed to secure the funds he asked for.