"After I was bullied and I felt a darkness inside of me, I knew I didn't want other kids to feel the same way I felt," the youngster explained.
Seven-year-old Cavanaugh Bell is on a mission: "To help other people and let them know that I got their back." Despite being told at age five that he was too young to volunteer, the second-grader has now touched over 8000 lives with his determination to make the world a better place for those in need. Today, the youngster leads a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Cool & Dope, through which he supplies essentials to those struggling to feed their families amid the pandemic. Although he has always been driven to change the world with kindness and positivity, it was the "darkness" he felt inside him after being ruthlessly bullied that drove him to take on such a massive undertaking.
"After I was bullied and I felt a darkness inside of me, I knew I didn't want other kids to feel the same way I felt," he wrote on his GoFundMe page. "So, I asked my mom if she could help me spread love and positivity. And, the more I gave back to my community, the more I wanted to keep doing it." According to The Washington Post, Cavanaugh—who lives in Gaithersburg with his mother, aunt, and cousins—spent the outset of the Coronavirus pandemic in March helping the local community in the Maryland suburb.
People always ask me why I started Cool & Dope. And the answer is simple, I wanted to do my part to make the 🌎 a better place! pic.twitter.com/co6PaohWb6— Cool & Dope (@cooldopeliving) February 19, 2019
The idea came to him when he realized his 74-year-old grandmother is in a high-risk age group for Coronavirus. "One day I was thinking about my grandma and I was like 'Oh, mommy she shouldn't be going out to the grocery store because it's coronavirus season. She's my best friend,'" the youngster told CNN. He then decided to use the $600 he'd saved up to make care packages for his grandmother's neighbors at her senior citizen home, with each package including "toilet paper, some flushable wipes, hygiene products, and a bunch of food."
As news spread of Bell's good deed, donations began to roll in, and soon he and his mother were able to open a food pantry at a nearby warehouse that a logistics company offered to let them use. "Hopefully we can help a thousand people. We plan to do this until we run out of donations or until the pandemic is over," the boy's mother, Lacey Simmons, said at the time. Since then, Bell has helped over 8,100 people as per a recent update on his GoFundMe page.
He also got praise from people in high places, including Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), who featured him on her YouTube show "Kids with Kamala" in May. Over the summer, Bell decided to extend his reach beyond Gaithersburg to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to some of the poorest communities in the country. He reportedly settled upon this location to extend his helping hand after thinking back to the road trip he and his mother took to Mount Rushmore in Pennington County, SD, two years ago when they drove through the reservation.
GUYS WE FILLED THE TRAILER!!!— Cool & Dope (@cooldopeliving) July 8, 2020
I was so nervous that we only had 10 days to get it done BUT you guys came through and donated all types of things for the Pine Ridge Reservation. We are going to help SO many people!!! pic.twitter.com/R0oaoSMXMr
Speaking of the trip, Simmons revealed that her son's eyes were glued to the window the whole drive. "My mom explained to me that people live on the reservation, and some didn’t have what they needed to survive," said Bell. "Some of the houses didn’t have electricity or running water." The mother-son duo reached out to their community of supporters to arrange essential supplies for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and managed to fill an entire semi-truck with canned and nonperishable foods, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and other critical items worth about $20,000 in total.
🙌🏾 WE DID IT AGAIN 🙌🏾— Cool & Dope (@cooldopeliving) September 26, 2020
You guys are SO amazing!!!!! Last Tuesday we filled ANOTHER 53 FOOT TRAILER to take to the Pine Ridge Reservation and it was FULL of essential winter supplies, food, and cleaning supplies for them.
A BIG thank you to each and every one of you who donated! pic.twitter.com/xsBhaZ5tMp
"He’s only 7 years old. I’m excited to follow him and see what other amazing things he’s going to do," said Alice Phelps, director of First Families Now, who was a teacher for several years and then a school principal on the reservation. "It’s hopeful, during a time when there’s so much uncertainty, to think of what our future is going to look like with people like him." Revealing what he wants to be when he grows up, Bell said: "I want to be someone that makes laws for the state, and maybe be on the Supreme Court. I want people to know that they can do anything — it doesn’t matter if you are 8 or 87, you can make change. You just need to believe it."
I’M WALKING 13 MILES TO STOP BULLYING— Cool & Dope (@cooldopeliving) October 3, 2020
Will you walk with me?
I’m doing this in honor 13-yr-old Traeh Thyssen who lost his life to suicide due to bullying.
His mom is asking everyone today to walk #13minutechallenge￼ to raise awareness about bullying. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/kL6tcBVVim