By KAREN AUSTIN
As we shift from 2020 to 2021, I’d like to acknowledge the dedication of the Girl Scout organization which rallied to help girls and volunteers stay connected as they continued to deliver on their promise to build girls of courage, confidence and character. Girl Scouts has been operating in San Diego since 1917, with troops of girls participating for the past 104 years right here in our College Area schools and neighborhoods. My own daughters are two of those neighborhood Girl Scouts and are among more than 20,000 in San Diego.
With such a rich and long history, the organization has learned to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of girls, their families and communities. The 2021 cookie program is an example of just that. Carol M. Dedrich, the current Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego-Imperial Council, says, “Our girls are using innovative techniques this year to market cookies in a socially distanced manner. They will rely on channels like Digital Cookie, an order taking website and app, to help them safely and effectively manage their cookie businesses online and provide customers with the option for direct delivery by FedEx or USPS.”
“Moreover,” she continued, “for the first time, our girls will learn and utilize e-commerce technology as we partner with Grubhub‘s delivery service.”
This new national partnership will allow cookie customers to order and pay for cookies through Grubhub‘s website or app. A few other program modifications will also help to ensure the safety of Girl Scouts and cookie buyers alike, as cookies are sold around town. Girl Scouts will, of course, follow the health guidelines established by the State of California and San Diego County to help reduce COVID-19 transmissions. Under the current purple level, booth sales in front of grocery stores and other businesses are not permitted.
Instead, Girl Scouts will use their entrepreneurial skills to provide a contactless cookie experience. Expect girls to put their tech badge skills to good use with digital marketing, ordering, and even payment acceptance. They will organize distribution and deliveries by dropping off orders at door steps, creating a pick up point or posting cookies by mail.
Girls may choose whether or not to participate in this Girl Scout tradition, which was started in 1917 by a troop in Kansas. Soon, Girl Scouts and their mothers around the nation were baking and selling cookies together in their neighborhoods. The original shortbread recipe was used to develop the current Trefoil cookie, fashioned in the shape of the Girl Scout emblem.
An important fundraising effort to raise operating revenue, the cookie program also aims to help girls develop these five skills essential to their own leadership and success in life: setting goals, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics. In addition to personal development, girls can earn fun rewards and a share of money they collect for their own troop activities. All net proceeds stay in San Diego to fund local Girl Scouting, including programs, activities and the financial assistance that helps all girls participate.
This year’s cookie lineup includes: Thin Mints, Samoas, Do-si-dos, Lemon-Ups, Tagalongs and Trefoils priced at $5. Due to higher production costs, the Girl Scout S’mores and gluten-free Toffee-tastics specialty cookies are $6 each.
If you aren’t inclined to eat cookies, maybe you’d consider donating boxes to deployed service members through Operation Thin Mint. This amazing program originated here in San Diego in 2002 under the leadership of Jo Dee Jacob. When she transitioned from a 27-year career as a military officer to the San Diego County Girl Scout council CEO position, Jacob literally switched from Navy blue to Girl Scout green and from working with military troops to mentoring Girl Scout troops. Twenty years later, her win-win approach to raising needed funds for Girl Scout programs has sent 3.25 million boxes to the surprise of military troops serving our country in places like Iraq, Korea and even the Arctic Circle. That really says something about the generosity of our San Diego community.
As a volunteer who leads troops for both of my two daughters, I have first-hand experience supporting girls who sell cookies as a way to give back to the organization. When I asked my 15-year-old daughter, Caroline Austin, what stands out in her memories of those times, she said, “I had fun selling cookies with my friends at booths, I remember pulling our wagon with cookies through the neighborhood and now I’m just going to have to figure out how to help sell cookies COVID-style!”
I know the value of the Girl Scout experience and and I know how yummy all those cookies are! For information about Girl Scouts and the 2021 cookie program, visit sdgirlscouts.org or email email@example.com.
— Karen Austin writes on behalf of the Alvarado Estates Association.