Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas and Do-si-dos. Behold the sweet right of cookie sales for Girl Scouts and their parents across the country — not to mention the millions of us who buy them.
For the girls in Troop 40103, the first in Washington based in a homeless shelter, selling cookies is one more way of feeling like any other scout in Puget Sound. The troop and its activities take the focus off a child’s housing status and place it instead on regular kid experiences like friendship, outings, and papier-mâché projects.
“They haven’t been camping yet, but they do a lot of activities, like having guest speakers, making papier-mâché balloons. The bird houses they made are sitting in our community room,” said Linda Mitchell, communications director for Mary’s Place. Mitchell said the number of girls in the troop goes up and down as families enter and exit shelter, but generally sits at between 10 and 12 at a time.
The only noticeable difference between the Mary’s Place troop and others in the region is that rather than scouts being driven to a leader’s home or an outside meeting space, girls walk transport themselves from their family’s room at the shelter to its meeting space.
Tanita Horton, a Mary’s Place staffer, helped found the troop in 2016 and says a kid empowerment program like Girls Scouts is a good fit for a shelter. Scout activities, including cookie sales, bring a dose of calm and connection for kids experiencing the stress and instability of homelessness.
“When the girls move into housing in a new community, a local scout troop is a great way to connect and make new friends,” said Horton. “I was a Girl Scout and a troop leader and I loved it – the camaraderie and fun, going on outings and learning new skills. Our girls love the same things.”
Mitchell added that while a few scouts have returned to help the troop, one a girl moves into permanent housing with her family, they tend to join a Girl Scout troop in their new community.
“This is where they get introduced to the idea of scouting and then we hope they move on with a troop in their new place outside the shelter,” she said.
A return to normal
Like most groups, Troop 40103 had to sit out COVID lockdowns.
“We had to take a break during the pandemic, but started back up again late last year,” says Horton. Back on track means back into sales mode. Girls participate in the program for free, but cookie sales are a primary fundraising tool for this troop.
“They’re having a blast selling cookies,” Horton said.
Help a troop out!
Mary’s Place Girl Scout Troop 40103 will be out pitching cookie boxes on two occasions this week: On Friday, March 17 they will be outside of Mary’s Place Burien shelter (12845 Ambaum Blvd. S.W. from 5-7 p.m. And on Sunday, March 19, they will be selling cookies outside of Molly Moon’s 4822 Rainier Ave. S. location from 2-5 p.m.
Can’t hear the pitch in person? You can support Troop 40103 by purchasing cookies online.