A little cookie goes a long way: Girl Scouts find solutions to an unusual cookie season | AspenTimes.com

A little cookie goes a long way: Girl Scouts find solutions to an unusual cookie season

Cookie sales extended through March 21

A little Girl Scout cookie goes a long way after a rough day during an especially difficult year.

Then again, so does a whole sleeve of Thin Mints.

“Because of the pandemic, I mean, it’s like, people are even more excited — they’re like, ‘all right, give me five boxes instead of two,’” said Heather Merritt Gentry, the troop leader for Aspen Girl Scout Brownie Troop 15014.

Local cookie hounds won’t find their fix at the usual booths outside grocery stores or near the gondola plaza this season. The Aspen troop took a COVID-cautious virtual approach with online ordering and options for contactless delivery or shipping to customers.

“We are setting an example for our girls in Girl Scouts to make socially responsible decisions, and to do the right thing for our community,” Merritt Gentry said. “At times like this, as much our girls want to be out selling cookies and it’s the highlight of the year, we thought it was much more important to teach them the value of respecting what our communities need and being … upstanding citizens.”

All four of the scouts in Troop 15014 who chose to sell cookies this year have already met their sales goals thanks to a “tremendous response” from folks eager to show their “cookie loyalty,” Merritt Gentry said. The community has also continued to show strong support for a cookie donating program through which customers purchase boxes for scouts to deliver to “hometown heroes,” with a focus this year on frontline workers; that program is available through other local troops as well.

Most funds raised support the larger Girl Scouts organization, but a portion also contribute to “programming, learning opportunities and experiences” for the local troop, according to Merritt Gentry.

Cookie season isn’t over just yet: The Girl Scouts of Colorado announced Thursday that sales will be extended through March 21 (they were originally slated to wrap up March 7).

There are several Girl Scout troops throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Basalt Girl Scout Troop Cookie Manager Tracy Sgroi recommends posting in community Facebook pages like the Roaring Fork Swap to find the nearest troop.

“There’s so many girls selling at different levels,” Sgroi said. “We’ll find you.”

Aspen Girl Scout Troop 15014

Visit the Aspen Girl Scouts Facebook page for ordering information, or look for posters with QR codes posted throughout Aspen. The posters link to the cookie sales page for scout Ava Marie Carr, but funds support the entire troop.

Basalt Girl Scout Troop 15015

Email troop15015basalt@gmail.com to order cookies.

Some downvalley troops are still offering in-person sales as well. Visit girlscouts.org and use the “Find Cookies” feature to find the nearest booth.

But numbers are still down due to a lack of in-person sales. The cookie season was just wrapping up in mid-March as the pandemic hit last year; scouts set lower goals this year with the challenges of virtual sales in mind.

“It feels different because last year we were able to sell in person and we could sell way more cookies,” said Ava Gentry, a 9-year-old member of Aspen’s troop. “You aren’t seeing the person that you’re selling (the cookies to).”

There is one perk to the virtual approach, she said: no more standing out in the cold.

Outreach has been the main challenge, according to Aspen troop leader Merritt Gentry.

“It’s been so tricky because getting the word out has been tough this year,” she said. “We actually weren’t even sure what to do.”

Scouts have relied on word of mouth, online initiatives and posters around town to share ordering information, but it isn’t quite as effective as a table in a busy hub.

Basalt’s Girl Scout Junior Troop 15015 has likewise set (and met) lower sales targets this year, according to Troop Cookie Manager Tracy Sgroi. They, too, opted for a virtual effort and word-of-mouth outreach over traditional methods of booth sales and door-knocking.

“Oh my gosh, it’s been completely different,” Sgroi said. ‘We didn’t even think there would be cookie sales, truly.”

But the challenges of the pandemic haven’t stopped three scouts from the six-girl Troop 15015 from participating in this year’s effort with a gung-ho attitude, according to Sgroi.

“These girls said, ’OK, no problem, we’ll come up with other ways,’” Sgroi said. “I’m really blown away by their resilience. … The girls have gotten so creative — they’re going to be amazing entrepreneurs when they grow up.”

That is, after all, the Girl Scout way: the program places an emphasis on a willingness to help out and find innovative solutions to challenges even in difficult times.

“The girls are finding ways to keep it safe while still having fun and still running their business,” Sgroi said. “It’s awesome — to teach them that at this young age is so, so important and really cool.”

And for those in the know, getting a box (or several) of Girl Scout cookies is as special this year as any other, if not more so.

“We know how much joy cookies bring to people, and especially this year during the pandemic, it seems like so many people were even more receptive to buying Girl Scout cookies — it’s something people look forward to every spring,” Merritt Gentry said. “It just puts a smile on people’s faces.”