The boxes under the tent were piled up high. Li Du went to take a look and said, "Are these the cookies that the children are selling?"
Mother Mesa smiled. "Yes, this is the first batch. We are rushing to put in the time to order and bake more."
As she spoke, she opened a box and passed a packet of cookies to him, indicating for him to try some.
Inside the packet were some regular cookies. Li Du took a bite; the taste was great as it was fresh out of the ovenfragrant and crunchy.
The cookie flavor was peppermint. It had a sweet, refreshing taste, and was more delicious than the cookies he had bought from the supermarket.
Li Du commented, "They're yummy.No wonder you guys are confident about making more. Mother Mesa, give me two big boxesno, make it four big boxes."
The black woman's eyes gleamed. She said, "Take two big boxes first. They taste better when they are fresh out of the oven. Come back when you want some more. Hans, that kid, also loves them."
Li Du asked, "How much are they?"
Mother Mesa waved her hand, and said, "How much? Don't worry about it. They were baked by this old lady for the children."
After hearing that, Li Du could not bear to reject her kind offer.
A few children ran back, perspiring as they pushed a small cart along, and said, "Mother Mesa, we finished selling all of them. Load some more for us."
It was cooler than the summer, but it was still warm enough for the children to get hot and tired after pushing the cart around.
At this point, Li Du had an idea, and said, "Mother Mesa, I can't just eat your cookies for free. How about I help you today? I will be the driver, and ferry these boys and girls around, in exchange for the cookies."
Mother Mesa asked, "You are not busy today?"
Li Du replied, "I've got nothing going on."
Hearing that, the children were thrilled. But the reason for their happiness wasn't because of the transportation to deliver the cookies. "Wow, can we work with the ocelot?"
"We can definitely sell more cookies if we bring the ocelot along to promote them!"
"His name is Ah Meow. He is Brother Hans's best buddy."
"And Crispy NoodlesI know their names!"
Li Du laughed as he opened the door of his car. He brought Ah Ow out. "There's a new little buddy. She is Ah Ow, she's an obedient kid."
Mother Mesa glanced over and asked, "Wow, where did you get that wolf from?"
Surprised, Li Du asked, "How could you tell?"
Mother Mesa chuckled, "My father was a hunter in Tucson, protecting the farm and ranch. They often hunted wolves, and when I was young I followed them for the experience. Of course I can tell."
She had a look of nostalgia on her face as she recollected. "How time flies! There were so many wolves then, so commonly seen. We were filled with fear and hatred when we spoke about them. Now, they are all under our protection."
The children had returned to take a break, but they did not rest at all. They all helped out with the chores.
There was an empty room in the welfare home, which had temporarily been transformed into a bakery. There were two large ovens in there and some elderly folks were busy baking the cookies.
Ingredients like eggs, milk, butter, and flour needed to be mixed together; someone weighed out ingredients, someone adjusted the proportions, someone mixed the dough and someone rolled it out. The people at the welfare home had formed a production line of sorts.
The rolled-out dough was cut into various shapes using cutters and then baked in the oven. They were sorted after they had been baked; there was also a packaging machine, to be used to seal the packets of cookies up.
The children were responsible for packing; they were busy, hot, and sweaty, but they were high in spirits. They talked and laughed joyfully as they worked.
Li Du asked, "Is this how they rest?"
Mother Mesa smiled at him helplessly. "Yes, I knowthe children are tired, but there ain't much time for the Scouts to sell the cookies. We have gotta take advantage of the opportunity."
The scouting activity of cookie selling could not be carried out any time they wished. They had to make use of the Scout's name to conduct any business-related activities.
This was to prevent child labor or the hindrance of their development and studies. Ultimately, for most of the children, this activity was just to have fun. However, for the children of the welfare home, this was an opportunity to make earnings for their own livelihood.
Looking at the children working hard in front of the packaging machine, Li Du suddenly recalled a time when he was young.
He was in school then, dealing with stressful school work. He would learn mathematics, followed by languagesthe alternating of subjects was considered a break.
The children were in a similar situation, alternating laborious work with less laborious work. It was indeed very exhausting.
With Li Du's help, however, they could ease up a little.
He loaded the boxes into his car; there were one hundred small boxes in total. He would help sell them to the community at the malls and shops where there was a lot of people.
As he was about to leave, an ecstatic and agile Sally climbed into his car for a look, shook her head and said, "Not enough, bro. You can still load another 50 boxes!"
Li Du was stunned. "So many?"
"Each of us can sell 40 to 50 boxes of cookies each day," the little boy Kent said proudly.
Li Du exclaimed, "That's awesome!"
The children of the poor needed to manage their own affairs early in lifethey needed to learn how to do well and make money. It would also be difficult for the welfare home to survive if they only relied on the government's funding and donations from the public.
For regular Scouts, the sales target of their one-off activity could be about 100 boxes, and that would be for the whole week.
However, that would not be sufficient for the children in the welfare home; they needed to sell a lot more cookies.
They were so much more driven than other children because, according to the Scouts' regulation, the money that the other children earned would go to the Scouts, whereas the children of the welfare home could keep the money that they had earned.
Mother Mesa was a selfless woman. Not only had she adopted these children, but she had also ensured that they grew up healthily. This did not only refer to the health of the physical body, but it also included their mental health.
The few children who were with Li Du did not feel tired; instead they felt blessed to have his help.
Using his pickup truck as the mode of transportation, Li Du brought along more small carts so they did not have to share any.
In the car, a few children excitedly discussed their sales tactics.
Listening to their conversation, Li Du learned that the Scouts Association had sale experts give them lessons during the Scouts training camp to teach them how to promote the cookies.
These children were keen learners. Beside applying what they learned, they had also practiced with each other to gain experience and had shared their conclusions with each other.
They drove to a square where Li Du had planned to drop the children off. Here, he saw that there were already a few Scouts performing the activity with their little carts. Furthermore, they had their guardians with them.
He suddenly realized something, and said, "You guys came out here all by yourselves before? Isn't that dangerous?!"
To Li Du, the public security in the US was much worse than that in China. Even back in China, parents wouldn't allow children to do any sort of promoting like this outside alone.
In addition, for some unknown reason, there was an exceptionally high number of pedophiles in the US. After he had arrived in Flagstaff, he often heard about sexual predators attacking children in the news.