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Girl Scout cookies offer pandemic comfort food, help Southern Arizona organization
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Girl Scout cookies offer pandemic comfort food, help Southern Arizona organization

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At least 2,000 girls regionally are expected to participate in 2021 cookie sales, which are now underway and can be purchased online or through booths found at https://www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/all-about-cookies/How-to-Buy.html.

COVID-19 definitely calls for comfort food, and the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona are answering that call with their 2021 Girl Scout cookies sale.

“Anytime, especially during the pandemic, everyone loves a good comfort snack. We encourage consumers to buy for themselves and to buy some cookies to give to local heroes through our Cookies for Heroes Campaign,” said Kristen García-Hernandez, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona.

Last year, the Girl Scout Cookies Program sold nearly 900,000 boxes of cookies regionally; including 22,000 boxes that were delivered to local heroes on the front lines, such as health-care workers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and grocery store staff.

Revenue from local cookie sales typically generates $4.5 million annually, which accounts for about 75% of operating revenue for the organization.

“The power of the cookie program is that sales directly impact girls in Southern Arizona. There is often a misconception that a portion of sales go to the national offices or other organizations, but that is not true. A girl is never turned away from Girls Scouts because she doesn’t have the financial means to pay and these cookie funds provide financial assistance for everything from membership and uniforms — if they choose to wear one — to programs and camp opportunities,” said Garcia-Hernandez.

Programs and opportunities through the Girl Scouts have shifted dramatically in the past 10 months due to the pandemic. Early on, the organization pivoted to virtual programming for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as well as for outdoor activities and life skills. Year-round, Girls Scouts were able to complete activities with specially created home kits; siblings and families were encouraged to participate along with troop sisters and scout staff.

Participants were also able to attend “Camp Log On,” which provided a blended online and home experience during the summer in lieu of Girl Scout Camp.

“Girls could participate in Zoom sessions, but also perform additional activities at home with kits that had been mailed to them. We had great success with the program. It has been very important to us to continue to provide fun, safe resources for our girls since so many clubs and activities have been canceled due to the pandemic,” said Garcia-Hernandez.

In moving forward with various programs and Cookie Sales — which will occur both online and outside select local retail locations — Garcia-Hernandez said that the mental and emotional health of young people is paramount.

“The girls have been in isolation and there has been lots of disappointment, so it is critical to engage with them and provide any kind of normalcy. We need to give them something they can look forward to and enjoy. We really encourage and invite the community to respond and support the girls out there and ask them questions about their goals and about why they want to continue to make a difference in the community,” Garcia-Hernandez said.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net

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