8 year old Aaron Moreno used to burst with joy once he heard the ice cream truck pull up. He would look to his mother to see if she had enough money for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Unfortunately, his mom couldn’t always afford to buy Aaron his favorite snack. This inspired Aaron to start selling plants in East Los Angeles. This idea quickly transformed into a business that helped his family of four move from a shed into an apartment.
Berenice Pacheco, Aaron’s mom, told CNN, “When I lost both my jobs in March because of the coronavirus pandemic and we had no option but to live in a shed, this kid was always asking for Hot Cheetos, it’s just $3, but when you have kids and you don’t have a job, it can make all the difference.”
He launched Aaron’s Garden, and invested the remaining proceeds in more plants, which he’s sold ever since.
“Our shed was hot and crowded and I wasn’t happy,” Aaron explained to CNN. “I started my garden so my mom won’t be stressed because I don’t like seeing her struggle.”
Aaron and his mom would wake up at 6:00 am to take the bus everyday for months to the flower district and search for plants his customers might like. Some days he sold them from his shed, while other days he staged a pop-up shop. In July, one of Aaron’s high school friends started a GoFundMe to support Aaron’s Garden and help the family find stable housing. It’s since netted more than $40,000.
The money raised through Aaron’s Garden and GoFundMe didn’t just move the family into a new home, it reunited them. At one of the pop-up shops, a man donated $1,000, which Aaron used to bring his 10-year-old sister Ayleen Pacheco home.
Before moving into the shed, the family had bounced between homeless and domestic violence shelters. In 2018, Berenice sent Ayleen to live with her family in Mexico due to their financial struggles.
“The best part of what Aaron has done for us is bringing back his sister,” Berenice said. “It was so hard being without her and we are a whole family again. And I was so happy to see they still had their amazing bond even if they spent so much time apart. It’s such a blessing.”
Together, with their 2-year-old sister Alani, the family is finally complete and looking forward to what’s next.
“Imagine four sleeping in one bed,” Berenice said, “I really don’t know how we did it. It was the hardest thing to put my children through.”
“As an undocumented person, I didn’t have many laws to protect me. When I lost my jobs, I didn’t get a stimulus, I didn’t get unemployment. I was on my own and I would stay up at night trying not to cry so my kids wouldn’t hear me. I wanted to sleep my life through.”
The family is now “full of hope” and ready to start a new chapter.