Va. 6th Grader Who Has Seen 'A Lot of People Struggling' Sells Lemonade to Help Moms in Need

When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, all 11-year-old Cartier Carey could think about was how the single parents in his community were handling the new stress.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve seen a lot of people struggling,” Cartier tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “During the pandemic, I knew single moms were having a hard time trying to afford diapers for their babies.”

Inspired by the hardships many of his friends’ families were facing due to the pandemic, the sixth grader set up a lemonade stand in front of his house in Hampton, Virginia in July to benefit families in need.

He sold $1 glasses of lemonade and snacks to his neighbors for a couple of hours every day, using the daily earnings to buy diapers and baby wipes. The supplies were then set up on a table outside for people to pick up.

Word about the lemonade stand and its sweet mission spread quickly. In the first three days, Cartier —along with his four siblings, parents and kids in his neighborhood — raised $3,000. To date, the stand has collected more than $7,500, enough to provide nearly 28,000 diapers and wipes to give to hundreds of moms through local shelters, churches and other organizations.

“It makes me feel great because I know I'm doing the right thing,” Cartier says of giving back.

PEOPLE’s second annual Kindness Issue is dedicated to highlighting the ways, big and small, that kindness can make a difference and change lives. Click here and pick up the issue, on stands Friday, Oct. 30, for more stories on the impact of kindness from Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sterling K. Brown, Heather Locklear and other stars, as well as everyday people practicing kindness in their communities. To share the story of someone who’s done something exceptionally kind, email [email protected]

According to Cartier’s mother Britany Stewart, a prospective law student, Cartier has always shown an extraordinary willingness to help others.

“When he was younger, he would ask me if we could give homeless people on the streets money and how we could help them.” Stewart, 30, tells PEOPLE. “He’s helped some kids who were struggling or lonely at his school before.”

Last year Cartier started making care packages —  which included liquid sanitizer, hand warmers, soap, tissues, snacks and water — that he distributed to the homeless.

“If some people, like the homeless, don’t have what they need, they’re not going to live for a long time,” Cartier says. “It’s hard to see, so I love to help out.”

Stewart helped Cartier set up a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised an additional $34,000. Each week they receive hundreds of requests for diapers from parents throughout the country and even from far-flung places like the Philippines.

“I have a baby in diapers still, so I can imagine what a lot of these moms who don't have jobs are going through,” Stewart says. “I feel like if you’re able to, you should give back and help others who can't afford to get things that they need.”

Cartier says he’s just getting started and has established Kids 4 Change 757, a nonprofit organization that urges youth to help out in their communities.

“I want," he adds, "to keep doing things like this for the rest of my life."

• JOHNNY DODD and JASON DUAINE HAHN also contributed to this story

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