June is a charmed time in the Bold domiciliary because that’s where Carson Cares began, innocently – even, you might say, prophetically – on the front lawn of the family homestead in the central part of town where the homes are modest yet tenets are high.
Carson Bold was six, pint-sized in stature but gigantic in heart. Even then the precocious kid with the dark hair and round face yearned to do something far beyond his loftiness. He wanted to give money to SafeHaven, the non-profit servicing domestic violence victims where his mother, LaShaunn, worked, and where he’d noticed something he rarely experienced under his own roof: despondency.
Carson’s aspiration was simple, really. He’d been there, saw the emotional toil, wanted to help by giving what he had materially and emotionally. So he did by doing what adorable little kids can get away with on summer mornings: setting up a run-of-the-mill lemonade stand, a diminutive entrepreneur in the making. He pocketed $22, all of which he forked over to SafeHaven.
Now 20, an Arlington High School alum and rising Southern Methodist University junior majoring in marketing, Carson – and his legacy – endures. That lemonade stand turned into Carson Cares, a full-fledged service organization that plugs a number of needs: a community in wanting of things and a community wanting to help provide those things. The lemonade stand grew into LemonAID Stand and Yard Sale, earning a couple thousand dollars and, still earmarked for SafeHaven, allowing the kids there to bask in fun activities during the summer with enough left over for monthly stocking stuffers for the holidays.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Carson Cares has become a sort of Pied Piper of Service, lassoing kids from elementary age to high school seniors under its service tent, doling out help all year long to aid everyone from Mission Arlington and the Arlington Pregnancy Center to the Alliance for Children. Its own Season of Giving event is an impressively massive enterprise, taking over the Bailey Junior High cafeteria in assembling shoe boxes full of toys earmarked for overseas children who might otherwise see nothing on Christmas morning.
Our current pandemic pivot has been troubling, to say the least, for those in need, and frustrating for service organizations wanting to fill that.
Saturday, June 20, is the date for the big LemonAID Stand and Yard Sale, now held in the parking lot of Pantego Christian Academy, on Park Row. Yet while the state has eased COVID-19 restrictions, big gatherings remain a problem area, so Carson Cares has teetered between a virtual yard sale and a real one with masks and social distancing.
“It’s difficult to sit here with ideas and not be able to carry them out,” says Carson, who had just polished off his last college final. “The need is even greater than it was before all of this.”
No sheltering in place for Carson Cares, though. Since the Big Shutdown, the group has still managed to write Thank You notes to first responders, partnered with a church to provide Easter eggs at Mission Arlington, and, while they couldn’t meet with residents of a rehab center, went to Plan B: putting encouraging messages on the bulletin board for them to see.
Of course, it’s not the same thing, especially for the young service soldiers chopping at the bit to do more.
“We’re trying to be innovative,” says LaShaunn, who has helped steer the ship in Carson’s absence, especially last summer when his study abroad trip to China prevented him from attending the 12th LemonAID. “That’s the frustrating part. People need us. We’re still here, and the kids are really eager to help. So we have overcome that and just figure out other ways to help.”