The first time I met Carson Bold, he was an eight-year-old with puffy cheeks,
warm eyes, and an old soul. I remember asking him about his lemonade stand in
front of his Arlington home, and his answer was all over the place, words bursting
out like water from a busted dam. He wanted to make money, wanted to give that
money away, wanted to make sure kids at the shelter had plenty of toys as he did,
wanted to make people happy, wanted to serve.
His mother, LaShaunn Bold, a veteran social worker, stood a few feet away
with a mixture of awe and pride, which is what mothers do, but the hardened
journalist in me figured this story would be cute and fun and printable but certainly
Boy, was I wrong.
Fifteen years later, we’re standing in the middle of Harvesting Hope
Community Garden, tucked away behind First Christian Church, in the 900 block of
Collins Street, and the group that would morph into the service organization Carson
Cares is planting two trees to anchor the garden.
Carson, now 23 and a lot taller, stood by watching, his legacy literally going
into the ground, with the prospect of outliving him. That would be fine with Carson
because it’s precisely how he always thought it should be.
Carson Cares did a ton of service projects over the 15 years. Still, its
impactful legacy will be this kind of Pyramid Scheme of Volunteering, where a few
kids caught the giving bug only to pass it along to others, who passed it along to
more, who . . . you get the idea.
Volunteering is, in some ways, a lost art, perhaps something that is simply
making up the DNA of some, learned by others, and utterly absent in way too
many. For folks who shun that sort of thing – it’s just not in them, like me and
shopping – but Carson estimated at least 2,000 teenagers came through his service
group at one time or another, and many of them were doing it for the first time.
“I’ve been with Carson since I was seven,” said Sam Whipple, who would
serve on the Carson Cares board. “It was surprising for me to feel so good helping
people. Sometimes I feel like it’s a little bit of selfishness but good selfishness. I am
happy that I am making other people happy. To see all this just kind of stop. . .
that’s tough to think about.”
Yes, this is it for Carson Cares. In November, the organization will have its
final project in fitting fashion: boxing toys and other goodies for needy children.
“We’re leaving something behind that will be long-lasting,” said LaShaunn
Boyd. “This is actually our 16 th year. This year we will continue at Bailey, helping
them with the Season of Giving, and that will be it.”
Carson attended Bailey Junior High, and each year the gym turns into a
Santa’s Workshop with students filling boxes with toys and other needs, like
toothbrushes and toothpaste. It’s a sight to see. They work with Samaritan’s Purse,
the non-profit that partners with local churches.
The boxes are then shipped to children in need around the world.
And to think this all started from a kid who, after raising $22 from a
lemonade stand, wanted to give it away to SafeHaven.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Carson, an SMU grad working as a data analyst. “I
always had lofty goals for anything we did. But I could never have imagined having
so many people get involved and want to serve others.”
Most of the time, Carson and his crew were either putting together a service
project, doing one, or thinking about what to do next.
“Now,” Carson said, “you look back at everything, and you think, wow, we
really did do a lot.”