GAITHERSBURG, MD — At a time when politics are fractured and new shutdowns are looming, 7-year-old Cavanaugh Bell is taking matters into his own hands.
Bell, who stands at about 4 feet tall, has filled two 53-foot semitrailers with supplies for South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation — one of the poorest places in the country. He first learned about the reservation on a road trip with his mother in 2018.
"We were driving for miles and miles and there was straight-up nothing," he told People. "I was like, 'Well, maybe we should do something for them since they're in the middle of nowhere.'"
According to the nonprofit organization Re-Member, Pine Ridge has the lowest life expectancy rate in the United States at roughly 66 years. Data from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey show that 39.8 percent of the 19,895 residents live below the poverty line.
Once COVID-19 tore through the nation, Bell used his life savings to make coronavirus care packages for seniors and started a food pantry to help communities in need.
With Bell raising thousands of dollars through his GoFundMe and Amazon Wish List pages, he decided to also help out the rural South Dakota community he saw two years ago, according to The Washington Post.
Nonperishable foods, clothing, and other essentials were soon loaded onto large trucks and sent to Pine Ridge.
In an interview with People, he said: "I'm just trying to do what's best for them. I'm just trying to make them have a big fat smile on their faces."