If you have lost faith in the world, this will restore it. Last year, New York’s first Girl Scout troop made up of girls from homeless shelters was formed. Troop 6000 was started in Queens, but now has members from across New York City. They had their first cookie sale last week, and the Big Apple turned out to buy some cookies.
Girl Scout cookie season is the best time of the year, but it presents challenges for some troops, according to CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Meredith Maskara. How it normally goes down is that scouts will collect cookie orders and eventually receive a bulk shipment. Girls then deliver the cookies to very happy customers. This isn’t practical for the girls of Troop 6000. “Girl Scout cookies come in large boxes and you have to store them somewhere. And that requires a lot of logistics, and if you’re living in a shelter, you don’t have the luxury of having the space. A lot of people in New York don’t have apartments or even homes big enough to store cookies.”
But the girls of Troop 6000 weren’t going to let that stop them. They kept asking and asking to sell cookies. They do things that other troops do: coding, trips, robotics, and more. They wanted to do this, too. So they partnered with Kellogg’s (which owns Little Brownie Bakers, the company that makes Girl Scout cookies) and took over the new Kellogg’s café in Union Square. From April 9 to April 13, Troop 6000 sold cookies out of this insulated, safe location.
And how they sold cookies! The Kellogg’s location is a long room on the second floor of a building in Union Square. The line of cookie customers started at a sales counter, went to the back of the room where it made a hairpin turn and continued back along the room across from the sales counter. Then the line went down two flights of stairs, out the door, and down the block. Those waiting in line watched as people passed them on the stairs or sidewalk carrying cases of the cookies they had just purchased. The sales counter was a sea of girls and adult workers opening cases of cookie boxes, passing cookie boxes back and forth, and girls collecting money. Young girls in Brownie and Junior vests walked around efficiently holding iPads. One little Daisy napped in a woman’s lap. It was the most wholesome line anyone has ever been in.
They quickly exceeded their original goal of 6,000 boxes. The next goal they set was 12,000. They exceeded that. The next goal was 30,000. When asked if she could predict such a response, Sanaa—a ten-year-old member of Troop 6000—responded confidently. “No. I expected way more.” She said the funds will go towards activities and trips, and she wants to give money to other homeless shelters.
Maskara said the girls were “cookie bosses.” The funds will also go to supporting girls as they pursue the prestigious Gold Award. The Gold Award is awarded to Girl Scouts in high school who work at least 80 hours developing and putting into action an independent project that benefits their community. Maskara said Troop 6000 girls are already thinking about potential projects. “They’re very excited that they’re going to be able to do that, and I was like, ‘Of course you can!’”
Troop 6000 was created through grassroots organizing in New York City. Girl Scouts has always served homeless girls, but this allowed Girl Scouts to tailor the program to the needs of girls living in shelters. Collaboration with shelter workers, community members, and councilmembers has brought Girl Scouts into shelters and made it consistent. So even if a girl moves shelters, she is secure in the knowledge that her Girl Scout community will be there for her and she will be able to take part in the same programs she did before. Sanaa said she joined for that sense of community. “I was lonely in the shelter and I wanted to see girls and I wondered what it was. So I just signed up.”
Even though the sale is over, you can still donate online.
Top Image: Sanaa showing off her badges and friends' signatures.
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Anna Greer was an editorial intern spring 2018 and is a senior at the University of Tennessee, where she studies comics and human rights. When she is not engaged in feminist activism, she usually can be found wearing Doc Martens and looking at Star Wars prequel memes. Follow her @activistanna42