The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shut down and children had to resort to online classes. Many parents also lost their jobs and others had shifts and salaries slashed, but the responsibility of fending for their wards did not go away. One 11-year-old boy from Virginia made it his mission to help single parents by selling lemonade to purchase diapers, wipes, and other essential supplies for single mothers in these trying times.
Cartier Carey has a knack for helping others and he gets greats pleasure in putting smiles on the faces of others especially single mothers struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. “It’s just one of them, and they’re doing everything on their own,” Cartier told Washington Post.
“A lot of his friends have single moms,” said Cartier’s mother, Britney Stewart, 30. “Through them, he knows how hard it can be.”
Supplies such as diapers and wipes may seem small but he realized the struggle of some of his friends being raised by single mothers and decided to contribute his quota to alleviate their burden with the help of family and friends.
The sixth-grader pitched the idea to his parents in July and set up his lemonade stand on his lawn in Hampton, Virginia. The clever boy put the motive of his stand on a sign next to it that read clearly, “Raising Money for Single Mothers.”
Statistics reveal that the United States has the world’s highest single-parent households of which 80 percent of the caregivers are women, meaning there are 1 in 4 children in the US living with only one parent.
One of Cartier’s closest friends is being raised by a single mother who must work back to back shifts to fend for him. This gives them a chance to spend lots of time together because he is at Cartier’s house whenever his mother is at work.
To their surprise, in the first three days after the stand was erected, they raised $3,000. All proceeds go directly into purchasing the supplies. The lemonade goes for a dollar, the chips 50 cents, and candy 25 cents.
After their sales, Cartier set up another table with the supplies he intends to donate, and parents are at liberty to swing by and collect the items they need.
The support of his parents, four younger siblings, and friends from his neighborhood is the right kind of support system Cartier needs as he changes the world one diaper at a time. The diaper stand is restoked every few days by Cartier and his mother as they frequent Walmart for supplies.
The stand has raised $7,500 since it was set up and the team have purchased about 27,500 diapers which they have shared to churches, local shelters and to the single mothers who drop by their stands directly. So far, about 25 single mothers have shown up.
“It has been really helpful because I truly can’t afford all of this on my own,” Shaniya Green, an 18-year-old single mother with a 7-month-old baby, said.
Green works at McDonald’s restaurant and buying diapers is a real struggle for her. At a point, she visited the stand twice in a month.
Consumers have also been generous with their donations to make this initiative achievable. “A lot of the time, people see the sign and want to donate,” Stewart said. “Many will ask to buy a lemonade for a dollar, but they’ll usually leave $20.”
One woman’s appreciation validated Cartier’s initiative of offering relief to these overburdened single mothers.
“You are helping so many people, you have no idea,” said the woman, through tears. “You’re an amazing young man, and you’re going to go far.”
The young philanthropist’s lemonade stand is not his first attempt at giving back to his community.
Cartier launched his own non-profit organization called Kids 4 Change 757 which is funded by donations a year ago to encourage children to be more involved in their community and give support to people in need.
In February, he and his mother created and delivered care packages which included sanitizer, hand warmers, soap, tissues, snacks, water, and other supplies to the homeless at the peak of the pandemic.
“I really want to raise awareness,” said Cartier, who is attending school virtually this fall and will continue raising money for single mothers and other Virginia residents in need.
“I want to spend all my free time doing this,” he said.
It is Cartier’s hope that his initiatives, especially raising money to help single mothers will bring to bear the plight of these women as the world still struggles to deal with the pandemic.