Seeing a homeless, coat-less man in the Superstore parking lot in Red Deer was Noah Moran’s first shocking glimpse of poverty and addiction.
The eight-year-old central Alberta boy wanted to help this man, so he started a charitable cookie-selling enterprise with his two brothers, Daniel, 11 and Liam, six.
The Caring Cookie Company now has a website and will be open for business by mid-next-week. The brothers plan to donate proceeds from cookie sales to Safe Harbour Society to help homeless clients.
Noah explained “I felt really sad for him” when he saw the grey-haired man weaving and stumbling around the grocery store parking lot with just a shirt on. “He had no jacket and it was cold, freezing outside…”
The intoxicated man was checked out by ambulance workers and taken to spend the night at Safe Harbour’s mat program after Noah’s father, local paramedic Joel, called for assistance.
Noah, Daniel, and Liam, who live near Gull Lake, later asked their parents many questions about why the man was inadequately dressed, why he was walking unsteadily, and why he had no home?
Their mom, Carina, explained to them about addictions. She said, “Nobody sets out to live that kind of life,” but drug or alcohol abuse often spring from inner hurt and pain.
Next morning, Carina found Noah rummaging through drawers. She asked what he was doing, and the boy told her he was looking for markers to make a sign so he could sell some cookies.
“He wanted to give money to the mat program so he could help the homeless man and his friends,” said Carina, who still gets emotional at this recollection.
“It’s easy to become jaded,” explained the local mother, who as a former paramedic, was regularly exposed to addictions and poverty.
Her son’s reaction allowed her “to look through the eyes of kids again” and see people who are experiencing homelessness as human beings, who “are somebody’s fathers, sons or brothers…”
Carina agreed to help Noah with his charitable endeavour — and Daniel and Liam also signed on for the project.
As co-owner of Sweet Capone’s dessert shop and bakery, Carina has access to a commercial kitchen. She and her boys plan to start making charitable cookies there on Saturday.
Daniel, Noah and Liam are meanwhile learning a lot about starting a business, including marketing, purchasing and budgeting, and are posting their progress on Facebook.
“Last night we worked on costing with dad. We learned how to calculate our production costs and then figured out our margins. It was good math practice,” wrote Daniel. He’s concluded “running a business is a lot of work and expensive. You could make stuff with cheaper ingredients but then it won’t be as good and then people won’t want to buy it as much. Mom said it’s important to make something that you are proud to sell.”
Noah is the charity’s CEO, while Daniel does the social media and created the Caring Cookie Company website, and Liam helps with the cookie selection.
So far, they plan to make chocolate chip, sea-salt caramel, pecan-toasted coconut, and chewy gingersnaps. “I like all of them — except the coconut,” admitted Liam.
Carina can’t be sure how long this venture will last — but her boys already told her they would rather make cookies than play baseball this spring, so it indicates at least a three-month commitment.
She hopes her sons will realize through their endeavour that they can make a positive contribution. “People say one person can’t make a difference, but that is such a lie. Every good thing starts with a seed, and then you have to water it and watch it grow…”
The Caring Cookie Company racked up 300 social media followers in the first 24 hours. The boys’ altruism has even inspired local musician, Mike Szabo, to write a song.
Jennifer Cross, manager of Safe Harbour’s detox program, called the brothers’ effort “lovely…. It’s just the sweetest gesture — and I think it will have a more far-reaching affect than the family can realize as everybody who helps or buys cookies will know more about Safe Harbour and what we do.”
For more information, visit www.caringcookiecompany.com.