What began as a way for a 7-year-old boy with a heart of gold to help his elderly grandmother with a care package during the CCP virus pandemic has turned into a community pantry that has aided over 8,000 people in need of essential supplies.
Cavanaugh Bell, a high-spirited boy from Gaithersburg, Maryland, thought about his 74-year-old grandmother with asthma when the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, pandemic began. Concerned that she belonged in the high-risk category of the virus, he decided to make a care package for her.
“When me and my mom went to the grocery store to get stuff for her, I kept thinking about her friends and the senior citizens that lived with her,” the extraordinary second-grader told WJLA.
With the intention to give back to the community, the selfless boy decided to use US$600 that he saved from three birthdays and two Christmases, and made 68 care packages for senior citizens in his area so that they could feel safe. He bought 31 hot meals for the elderly with the remaining money.
However, compelled to help more people in need, Bell reached out on social media for donations and started a GoFundMe page. This was how he began his mission “LOVE is greater than COVID-19” Community Pantry to help at least 1,000 people.
More and more people started to donate, and Bell thus raised funds to help people in need.
With the overwhelming success of the pantry, Bell decided to reach out and help send essential supplies amid the pandemic to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to one of America’s poorest communities during the summer.
Bell had initially passed through Pine Ridge as he was returning from a road trip to Colorado with his mother in 2018.
“My mom explained to me that people live on the reservation, and some didn’t have what they needed to survive,” Bell told The Washington Post. “Some of the houses didn’t have electricity or running water.”
Apart from their poverty-stricken conditions, Bell was moved by their increased suicide rates and health problems and thus knew that he had to reach out to them and help them with essentials during these unprecedented times.
As donations from helpful people in the community poured in on GoFundMe and Amazon Wish List, Bell’s mother, Llacey Simmons, 35, reached out to Alice Phelps, director of First Families Now, a nonprofit organization on the reservation, with their idea to send across essential supplies like non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and hygiene products.
Phelps, who has grown up on the reservation and seen the situation of the community firsthand, was beyond grateful. Bell and his mom sent a semi-truck of supplies worth $20,000 on July 10. However, he didn’t want to just stop at that and decided that he wanted to help once again as winter was approaching.
“Winter is horrible and it’s gonna be a mixture of the flu and coronavirus, so I figured why don’t I just give them clothes to stay warm and make sure that ... they get to be warm like all of us and have a happy life like all of us?” he told People. “Because it’s 2020 and I don’t think anyone should be living like that.”
“He believes he can save the world, and I believe him,” Phelps said. “He just carries that, ‘Well, no problem, let’s do it,’ and he doesn’t see anything as a challenge so I love that innocence about him.”
On Sept. 22, Bell and his mother loaded up a 53-foot trailer full of essential winter supplies, food, and cleaning to send to Pine Ridge reserve.
Apart from being a helping hand to people during the pandemic, the little boy with a magnanimous heart started a nonprofit at the age of 5 called Cool&Dope.
“When I was five years old, I got tired of people telling me that I was too young to volunteer,” the website states. “And after being bullied, I channeled that darkness inside of me into a bright light that I’m using to change the world!”
The organization spreads bullying and youth suicide awareness through a variety of ways, which include meeting law and policymakers, and creating necessary educational resources for teachers, students, and parents. Additionally, Bell and his team support bully survivors by advocating for them.
Bell has already achieved some milestones. He attended a Gaithersburg city council meeting and asked officials there to declare Feb. 21 as Bullying Awareness Day. Recently, the boy, who is currently homeschooled due to the pandemic, held a virtual “Kids Rally Against Bullying” to mark Bullying Prevention Month in Montgomery County—that came into existence due to Bell only.
The inspiring young boy has a piece of advice to share with everyone.
“I want people to know that they can do anything—it doesn’t matter if you are 8 or 87, you can make change,” Bell told The Washington Post. “You just need to believe it.”