AUSTIN, Texas (WTHR) — A 7-year-old Texas boy received both insults and support as he sold hot chocolate to raise money to help pay for President Donald Trump's border wall.
Benton Stevens was watching the State of the Union address with his parents when he asked them about the wall. When his parents, both active members of the Republican National Convention, told him about the wall, they said he wanted to raise money to help the cause.
“People think he’s brainwashed,” Benton's mother Jennifer told KXAN-TV. “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.”
Benton set up his stand at a local strip mall Saturday, selling cups of cocoa for $2 each, plus 50 cents for large marshmallows dedicated to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He placed a large sign in front of the stand with the words "Proceeds help Trump build the wall."
He made $231 in about an hour of sales before closing down after complaints to the owner of the store where Benton set up shop, even though his stand wasn't on store property, his parents said.
“I guess some liberals – or whatever you want to call them – they were griping at the owner (of the store) and going in and yelling at him and slamming him on Facebook,” Jennifer said.
Some slammed the parents for using their child to make a political statement, KXAN reported. But others were supportive of his effort. One donor even doubled the money Benton raised on Saturday.
The family said the negative response to Benton's stand "fired him up," so he set up shop again on Sunday, to similar polarizing reactions.
“He was called a little Hitler yesterday,” Stevens 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.”
Jennifer Stevens said the parents were criticized on social media, as well, but said it's "the price you pay when you make a political stance."
In all, Benton raised about $1,400, but even though Jennifer Stevens said her family is "pretty connected" in the RNC, putting the money directly toward building the wall might not be that easy.
Business Insider reported that a 2008 policy directive requires congressional approval before donating money to the Department of Homeland Security. Donations to the government are placed in a fund called "Gifts to the United States," but donors cannot guarantee where that money is disbursed.