SIDNEY — Despite the pandemic disrupting day-to-day life, the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio are persistent in making sure the cookie program continues this year.
“The pandemic has forced Girl Scouts to get creative, and to find new ways of accomplishing their meetings, and their badge and journey work, and they’ve been able to do that in a number of different ways,” KayAnn Rutter, director of Marketing and Communications for the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio said.
Getting creative includes doing virtual programming through Facebook Live, utilizing YouTube as a programming tool, gaining access to Zoom accounts for troops so that meetings can be held virtually and following safety guidelines in order to meet in-person.
With the 2021 cookie program, the task of selling cookies while respecting state health and safety guidelines was a challenge the organization rose to.
“Everything in the cookie program had to be re-assessed for safety and making sure that we were keeping our members and our customers safe at all points through the program. Girls are adapting their sales methods in creative and socially distanced, contact-free ways,” Rutter said.
Girls are using digital sales tools like the Girl Scout’s Digital Cookie online platform that was launched in 2014 to take orders and allow customers the option of having cookies shipped directly to them or delivered by their local troop. They’re also able to do door-to-door sales with contact-free approaches by utilizing door hanger order forms and porch drop-offs, so that customers can obtain their favorite cookies in a safe way. The Girl Scouts also has an option through their Digital Cookie platform for customers who want to gift boxes of cookies to someone, or they can opt to purchase “Cookies for a Cause,” which will donate cookies to local non-profits.
According to Rutter, the pandemic has presented the Girl Scouts with an opportunity to learn and grow as entrepreneurs, which is what the cookie program has been based on as well as developing five essential skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
“Those are built-in throughout the cookie program, but we’re also seeing girls really have to think through what they can do differently, how they can approach things differently and how they can get creative. It’s really fun to see the creative things they come up with,” Rutter said. “I think a lot of troops have taken that can-do approach, you know, ‘what can we do, and how can we make this work?’.”
Among the ways of making cookie sales work in a pandemic, Rutter said that cookie booths are still planned to open at local businesses and that social distancing and sanitation guidelines set forth by local health departments will be observed. Drive-thru locations will also be available, and customers interested in utilizing that option and others can visit https://www.gswo.org/en/cookies/about-girl-scout-cookies.html for more information.
Online ordering for the public will begin Feb. 1 and cookie booths will begin to pop up starting Feb. 12, with girl scouts currently taking orders now through March 4. Cookies will be available through March 14, and anyone interested in ordering online can sign up for a reminder at https://www.gswo.org/findcookies.
“So many of our girl scout alumns tell us that the Girl Scout Cookie Progam gave them a head start in the corporate world. Girls are gaining these skills working with others, setting goals, working with customers, and these are skills that will pay off for a lifetime,” Rutter said.