GSHPA’s Cookie Story Finds Success

Janet Donovan
President and CEO
Girls Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania

A recent Associated Press story regarding unsold Girl Scout Cookies on a national level highlighted the challenges that many Girl Scout Councils faced as we emerge from a nationwide pandemic. This was not the story for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.

Like many nonprofits and businesses, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) was not immune to the trials COVID-19 forced upon our organization.

But we met those challenges and in many ways exceeded our goals. Our Girl Scouts thought like entrepreneurs. We found creative and innovative ways to reach our membership, our volunteers and to continue to implement our important girl-led programs. Those connections were especially crucial to many girls in our membership during this time of unprecedented isolation.

GSHPA, which represents 30 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, worked hard to seek out that success during this past cookie-selling season, which officially ended in April.

We are proud of our efforts!

In fact, our local inventory controls, unlike the overall theme of the AP story, were actually tighter this year than in years past.   

We did have fewer Girl Scouts participating in the program this year, but our program leadership, which collaborated with every department in our organization (as well as neighboring Girl Scout Councils), projected, budgeted and adapted appropriately.

We found new and exciting ways for our Girl Scouts to sell safely both online and in-person, which included holding traditional cookie booths.

Here are some key highlights:

·         In our S’mores Executive Club, which is an exclusive club that spotlights our brightest entrepreneurs who go above and beyond our product program efforts, the number of girls reaching that benchmark in 2019 was 94. In 2021, that number was 138, an increase of 46 percent.

·         In that same time period, our Girl Scouts increased their average number of cookie packages sold from 178 to 231.

·         When COVID hit in 2020, Girl Scouts sold about 300,000 packages that year in direct sales. This year, and under most of the same conditions, our planning paid off. Our Girl Scouts sold more than 580,000 packages.

In fact, when our council began our booth sales for 2021, we couldn’t meet the initial demand.

“Although our booth opportunities were down 50 percent this year (locations where businesses allow us to sell directly) our girls created safe and innovative ways to continue to reach their goals. During the first two weeks of our direct sales in March, we connected with a sister Girl Scout Council to purchase cookies from them so as to meet the demand of our local entrepreneurs,” said Jess Delp, GSHPA Director of Product Program and Retail.

We are also very proud of the overwhelming success of our 2021 Gift of Caring program. This council-wide service project gives our GSHPA community the chance to donate cookies to military troops overseas and other nonprofit partners.

This year, Operation Gratitude was the recipient of our Gift of Caring initiative, and we easily surpassed our goal of donating 30,000 boxes to troops. Donations were up by 60 percent! Those donations are a testament to the giving nature of our local Pennsylvania communities.

It’s important to note that all proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program remain local and help to fund all of our programs: our camps, outdoor programs, STEAM, leadership training and more.

We know that we will continue to face many challenges as we tackle the rest of 2021 and plan for 2022. But the lessons learned during these past 15 months have certainly shown us that we can adapt and find success in the most trying time period in recent history.

We are grateful to note that we have a strong and resilient GSHPA community to thank for our support as we move forward and we thank the central Pennsylvania community. Your support allowed us to experience the success that we enjoyed.

How you can help

GSHPA has received questions regarding how to reduce the excess cookie inventory of our sister Girl Scout Councils. We appreciate your outpouring of support!

To help, please visit digitalcookie.girlscouts.org/scout/girlscouts2021 where you can donate cookies to first responders, food banks, and other worthy causes. In addition to helping other Girl Scout Councils with their cookie inventory, part of your donation will support local GSHPA Girl Scout Troops as well.

Thank you!


Troops to Troops

Many people will tell you Girl Scout Cookie season ranks right up there as one of the best times of the year. For some, the joy comes from trying the year’s newest flavor, for others, it’s the comfort of their favorite classic variety that brings back special memories.  

For military service members deployed overseas, reminders of home can be few and far between, but the Girl Scouts of America and national nonprofit Operation Gratitude are working to change that. For nearly 20 years, the Girl Scouts have partnered with OG to send the treasured treats to Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors as a way to say “thank you” and to assure them that their service and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed.  

Operation Gratitude received their first donation of Girl Scout Cookies during their 2004 “Patriotic Drive”-  just a year after OG was officially founded. The first donations were from individual Girl Scouts or their troops who chose OG as their “Gift of Caring” recipient. These types of donations grew every year after, and soon, the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles named Operation Gratitude as an official Gift of Caring charity. Other regions in California and throughout the country followed suit. Eventually, the number of boxes designated to Operation Gratitude became so large that the Girl Scout regions had the donations shipped directly to them from the warehouse, and they would arrive by the truckloads! 

The cookies are included in hundreds of thousands of Operation Gratitude Care Packages distributed across the globe to service members stationed so far from home. These brightly colored cookie boxes contain so much more than a special snack, but also bring smiles to the faces of their recipients who know someone stateside is thinking of them.  

The Girl Scouts’ participation with Operation Gratitude doesn’t end with the cookie deliveries. In addition to individual scouts, troops and councils donating these items, they also volunteer at Operation Gratitude Care Package Assembly Days and participate in a variety of service projects like hosting OG collection drives, crafting Handmade with Love items or paracord bracelets, and handwriting notes of encouragement and appreciation. The time, effort, and personal touch by volunteers that goes into Operation Gratitude Care Packages are what service members say makes the biggest difference.  

In 2021 alone, the Girl Scout Cookie donation to Operation Gratitude is expected to total around a quarter of a million boxes. As Operation Gratitude’s mission grows, so, too, does the impact of the Girl Scouts’ donations. Cookies and other items the organization contributes are also being included in care packages delivered to first responders and healthcare heroes who protect and serve our communities in a different, but equally important way.  

Through their partnership with Operation Gratitude, the Girl Scouts are connecting communities, giving back, and making a real difference. Though COVID-19 has put a temporary pause on some of Operation Gratitude’s larger in-person assembly efforts, there are still plenty of ways for Girl Scouts to get involved. For more information on virtual volunteerism, visit https://www.operationgratitude.com/express-your-thanks-virtual-groups/.  


Written by our friends at Operation Gratitude

The Perfect Girl Scout Experience, Staff Stories.

I like to say I have had the perfect Girl Scout experience. My mom signed me up to join a troop as soon as I started Kindergarten, and Girl Scouts has been in my life ever since. I am a lifelong Girl Scout who has tried pretty much everything Girl Scouts has to offer. I earned my Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards, helped run a troop my senior year of high school, served as a camp counselor, and am now interning with Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania as a Product and Retail intern. Even with all the ups and downs in life, I can confidently say Girl Scouts has always been my constant. Girl Scouts has truly come full circle for me and I have loved every minute of it. 

My troop in elementary school quickly became my closest friends. I found girls that I instantly clicked with and we almost immediately became friends. When I moved from California to Washington in middle school, I felt lost. I didn’t know who I was going to be friends with or what I was going to do; but Girl Scouts saved me again. I found a new troop and new friends. I learned that new things don’t always have to be scary if there are people who are there to support you. Girl Scouts has never failed to support me. 

I truly don’t think I would be the confident, intelligent, and compassionate leader I am today without the foundations Girl Scouts gave me. I learned confidence through empowerment seminars and observing the leadership of strong women above me. I learned how to balance my internal need for academic success with the necessity of breaks and flexibility. I learned leadership skills through the numerous opportunities Girl Scouts provided. Whether that be serving as a troop leader or a camp counselor, I learned the importance of leading with kindness and understanding. Girl Scouts also taught me how to be compassionate, even when it is hard to. 

I am so beyond grateful for everything Girl Scouts has done for me, which is why I was ecstatic to join the team at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. I selfishly wasn’t ready to lose the support system Girl Scouts had given me. Even still I continue to learn and grow because of the organization as a whole. Girl Scouts truly never ends; you will learn things you always use, and they will always be there for you. That is true loyalty, and precisely what it means to be a Girl Scout.


Written by: Samantha Griffin, GSHPA Product Program Intern, 2021

The Perfect Pairing: Girl Scout Edition

When you think of a perfect pairing for a Girl Scout cookie, what comes to mind? For me, it’s usually a glass of milk. But have you ever considered pairing your cookie with a glass of wine, beer, or even a whiskey?

Well, we did! As a thank you to our volunteers on Volunteer Appreciation night in April, we held a virtual Girl Scout Cookie Pairing and we’ve compiled our favorite tips below to share. Let us know what you think!

Toffee-tastic

  • Beers: For a buttery cookie such as Toffee-tastics, you’ll want to pair this with a scotch ale to bring out the caramel flavor.
  • Wines: To pair a Toffee-tastic with a wine, we recommend something with a stronger flavor. You could even pair this with a local cider!
  • Spirits: For a spirit, we suggest pairing with a flavored vodka (think caramel, vanilla, or anything sweet).

Bonus tip: If you prefer something non-alcoholic, we recommend dipping a Toffee-tastic in your coffee or hot chocolate!

S’mores

  • Beers: For a beer pairing, you can’t go wrong with a Russian imperial stout. Pairing the sweetness of the cookie with the roasted flavor of a dark stout will make you feel like you are roasting marshmallows over a campfire! For a beyond perfect pairing, don’t miss the local S’mores stout from Maxie’s in Cumberland County.
  • Wines: For wines, S’mores appeals to two flavor pallets, anything from a more subtle rosé to a drier merlot. You can’t go wrong!
  • Spirits: A unique spirit that pairs with several cookies, but especially S’mores, is peanut butter whiskey. We recommend Ole Smokey or Skrewball.

Bonus tip: Put your S’mores cookie in the microwave for 10 seconds to get the same gooey marshmallow as if you roasted it over a campfire!

Lemon-ups

  • Beers: For a unique cookie like Lemon-ups, you’ll want something light and airy to bring out the citrus flavor. Lemon-ups pair well with an IPA or a Hefeweizen which brings out the bright, citrus flavors of the cookie. For a local brew, head up to Troegs and check out First Cut or Joyous, which packs the perfect fruity punch.
  • Wines: For wines, you can’t go wrong with your favorite sparkling or white wine.
  • Spirits: The ultimate spirit pairing for Lemon-ups—a limoncello Moscow mule! For this easy perfect pairing, you’ll need limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, ginger beer, and lemon slices (for serving, of course).

Trefoils

  • Beers: For beer, we recommend an IPA but steer clear of anything bitter since the cookie doesn’t have as much sugar to counteract the flavor.
  • Wines: The Trefoil cookie’s light buttery flavor makes it the perfect match for a wine that is bright, fun, and lively. We recommend a semi-sweet Riesling.
  • Spirits: For spirits, you can mix and match a flavored vodka! And, if you are looking for a local option, check out Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg. Their perfect pairing? Lavender lemonade!

Do-si-Dos

  • Beers: The Do-si-Do is a unique, versatile cookie that pairs well with nearly anything—from blonde ale to a dark coffee porter! The porter will accentuate the peanut butter flavor, while bringing out the sweetness of the oatmeal cookie.
  • Wines: For a wine, we recommend a merlot or zinfandel to highlight the cookie’s oatmeal caramel flavor.
  • Spirits: For spirits, we paired our Do-si-Dos with a butterscotch spirit. If you want to go local, head up to Hazards Distillery in Mifflintown to try their butterscotch flavored moonshine.

Samoas

  • Beers: For Samoas, you want to be sure to pair the cookie with something that won’t take away from its flavor. For beer, we recommend steering clear of a blonde or pale ale. Try out a chocolate stout, brown ale, or amber ale instead.
  • Wines: We recommend pairing a Samoa with a sparkling wine or a dessert wine. This is especially perfect for those with a sweet tooth!
  • Spirits: Of course, with a coconut cookie, you can’t go wrong with a coconut rum or even a cream liqueur, such as Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Tagalongs

  • Beers: For a perfect beer pairing, you’ll want something that compliments the sweetness of the cookie without overpowering it. We recommend a Vienna lager or imperial stout.
  • Wines: You’ll want a wine with an assertive flavor, but not overpowering. Think cabernet, madeira, or anything with a bold flavor to cut with the sweetness of the cookie.
  • Spirits: The ultimate perfect spirit pairing with a peanut butter cookie? Peanut butter whiskey, of course! Test out this Skrewball martini recipe to mimic the Tagalong cookie: Skrewball, chocolate syrup, and vanilla vodka.

Thin Mints

  • Beers: Similar to Tagalongs, Thin Mints pair perfectly with an imperial stout.
  • Wines: For a wine, steer clear of anything that will overpower the cookie. Try out a dry merlot, malbec, or port wine.
  • Spirits: Check out the Bailey’s with Mint or a Coffee Liquor, it will elevate the mint flavor for you.

Bonus Tip: If you are looking for a fun, kid friendly pairing, have some Thin Mints and Cheddar cheese, it’s so tasty!

Let us know your favorites in the comments below!


Written by Rachel Lilley, Volunteer

What is a Cookie Drive-thru?

Introduction 

It goes without saying that the way we receive product has exponentially altered over the course of these last 12 months. Whether it’s selecting curbside delivery for restaurant orders or having your groceries delivered to your door, we’ve all had to adjust our expectations about how we receive the products we are accustomed to having. The same holds true for how customers will receive their cookie orders during the 2021 Girl Scout Cookie Program. 
 

What is a Cookie Drive-thru? 

A Cookie Drive-thru is somewhat self-explanatory. Girl Scouts will arrive onsite with Girl Scout Cookies in hand. Customers will be able to drive up to the Girl Scouts station, pay for their order and receive their cookies without having to leave the comfort of their vehicle. Today’s Girl Scouts recognize the importance of creating an effortless experience for the customer, which is why you’ll see many girls utilizing contactless payment features through mobile devices.   
 

Why is a Cookie Drive-thru Important? 

The Cookie Drive-thru presents a way to keep Girl Scout Troops safe as they participate in the Cookie Program and engage with the customers. The Cookie Drive-thru is not a new concept to the Girl Scout Cookie Program and we anticipate they will become much more prevalent during this year’s program. 

Closing 

For over a century, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has adapted and persevered in the face of certainty and uncertainty. It is without a doubt that the repercussions of this global pandemic will have a permanent impact on how Girl Scouts sell cookies but if we know anything about these aspiring entrepreneurs, it is that they are up to the challenge and will continue to use courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place for years to come.  

Call-to-Action 

To find where Girl Scouts are selling cookies near you, visit girlscouts.org/findcookies 


Post by Jess

Cookie Season is Upon Us!

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Now, more than ever, the comfort and familiarity of biting into a delicious Girl Scout Cookie is needed. Our Girl Scouts are ready to build their business, reach their goals, and meet the cookie demand! 

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania will begin selling cookies on January 15th. Girls will have their order cards until February 12th to take orders AND will be creating their cookie website so customers can order online. Customers can even order online and skip the shipping fee by choosing in-person girl delivery until February 12th. (Those cookies will arrive in March) 

Cookies will arrive in mid-March. Girls will fulfill their orders and then can go out into the world, safely of course, to continue reaching their goals! Contactless payment and delivery is an option all season long!  

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The cookie season ends on April 11th. Customers should make sure to stock up! Girl Scout Cookies are great in various recipes (find some hereand they freeze well! 

Here is GSHPA’s Cookie Line Up for 2021:  

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Ready to buy some cookies?! Beginning Friday, January 15th, you can go to our website and found out where to get cookies in your area!


Post by Jess Delp

Cookies- Staff Story

I remember when I was in high school and I took my cookie order card with me to school. None of the other girls in my troop wanted to take theirs, but I loved being a Girl Scout and I loved getting sales! So many people bought cookies from me that I was always the top seller in my troop. I did not mind asking friends, teachers, or anyone I came across if they wanted to help me reach my goals. One year, the cookie mascot was a moose, which is one of my favorite animals, so I was determined to win as many moose themed rewards as possible! Spoiler Alert: I did! And today, I am 33 years old, but I still love cookie rewards and stuffed animals!   

After graduation I moved onto college and while there I wanted to get a job on campus. I saw that the alumni department was looking for students to work on their phonathon, or call donation, team. I had never called people to ask for donations before, but I wanted a job and the hours worked with my schedule. So, I joined the alumni phonathon team!  Surprise, surprise… I was not afraid to pick up the phone, talk to strangers and ask for money to reach our goals. I had been doing this for years! In fact, I was one of the top performers for the alumni phonathon! As a college student, this was very exciting!  

After college I started a job in retail. One of the features of my company was a rewards program, if customers opened a credit card, they would get discounts and special promotions. Since asking customers to sign up for the credit card would intimidate a lot of employees, the company offered bonuses for those who brought in the most sign ups in a week! And again, I flourished! As you may have guessed I had no problem asking customers to open a credit card and I even noticed that my confidence and “pitch” was improving along the way.  

So where did my self-confidence in sales come from? The Girl Scout Cookie Program! I never took business courses in school, but I learned so much by setting goals and building my business as a Girl Scout. And I can see how my hard work and passion has made me successful throughout my life since.  

The GSHPA Girl Scout Cookie Program begins on January 15th, 2021. What will YOU learn this year?  


Post by Jess Delp

GSHPA Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays from Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA! We know this is a busy time of year with school, work, family, and of course Girl Scouts.  We want to help take something off your to-do list this season and have made you the ultimate gift giving guide for your Girl Scouts and adults!   

The four pillars of Girl Scouts, STEM, Outdoor, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship are always on our minds when planning our activities and programs so why not our gifts as well.  We have found items for each of the pillars that will inspire and encourage everyone to try something new or stay comfy with what they love.  

All of these items on our Girl Scout gift guide can be found in the Girl Scout Shop you will find something for everyone on your shopping list.  Click on over and see what you can find! 

Kids Saving the Rainforest

Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR) is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 by two nine-year-old girls with the purpose of educating people around the world about the ecological importance of the rainforest.  KSTR has many projects in which they are actively involved in, including a wildlife rehabilitation center!


As part of the wildlife rehabilitation center, we raise baby animals abandoned by their mothers and release them back into the wild. We placed 136 monkey bridges over the roads to prevent harm to wildlife, including the titi monkeys, who have been on the Critically Endangered UN Red List since 1997.  When we started the program in 2000, there were only 1200 titi monkeys left in the world, now there are estimated to be 5700! 

We have a Wildlife Sanctuary for non-releasable animals, this sanctuary has educational tours to teach people of all ages about the rainforest, its destruction, and we then empower them to contribute in saving the rainforest.

We have reforested over 17,400 trees to provide corridors, food, and shelter for the wildlife that we rescue, and have a donated property of 290 acres on which, we plan to naturally regrow 84,000 trees in a period of time.

The KSTR story and efforts to save the rainforest have been featured in many media outlets including Teen Magazine, Teen People, National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic for Kids, National Geographic TV Channel, BBC, Appleseeds, Owl Magazine, Wild Magazine, Nature’s Way, Get Outta Town TV Show, Amazing Kid Of the Month (April 2003, 2004) Young Eco Hero of Action For Nature, and Do Gooder of the Month (April 2004).

Learn more about us at our website. This year, we are excited that GSHPA is partnering with us! Girl Scouts who participate in the Fall Fundraiser Program and who reach the $1200 reward level can Sponsor a Sloth from Kids Saving the Rainforest!

GSHPA Retail is Back!

We are excited to announce that Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA Retail is back! We heard from many of our members and are excited to be back to offer some awesome Girl Scout merchandise! We began revamping our retail efforts earlier in 2020 and we are excited about the items, sales and much more we now have to offer to the members, families, and friends of GSHPA!

You may have even seen some of the recent retail events and sales we have been hosted over the last few months, such as our GSHPA “Girl Scout Strong” shirt sale, our Facebook Live Shopping Event and our GSHPA Neon shirt sale. You may have even seen our GSHPA Pop Up Shop at a recent Adult Enrichment event held at Camp Small Valley. If you have not yet heard about these retail events, or if you would just love more Girl Scout gear, we’ve got you! Expect to see even more sales and events like these throughout the year. We will share information about any upcoming retail sales and events on our official GSHPA social media pages and in various communications. As a reader of this blog post, we will even give you some insider info: be on the lookout for another GSHPA Facebook Live Shopping Event this fall!

In the meantime, don’t forget about the Girl Scouts Official Online Store – GirlScoutShop.com; your one-stop-shop for all Girl Scout-related items. The online store truly has it all, from uniforms and badges to sweatshirts and sleeping bags! As an added bonus, it is offering free shipping on all orders now through the rest of 2020!

As we promote sales and specials, we want to be sure you are aware of all the ways to buy Girl Scout items and make the most of your Girl Scout Retail experience. Additionally, as a reminder, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania no longer has a brick-and-mortar store, so all purchases can be made online!

We know that the Girl Scout Online Store has a lot to offer! Did you know that your Girl Scout can use her GO! Dough to purchase that extra special item from the online store? Yes, she can! Did she earn GO! Dough from the GSHPA Cookie Program or GSHPA Fall Product Program? If so, she can use her hard-earned GO! Dough to purchase that fun Girl Scout gear she’s had her eye on from GirlScoutShop.com. T To shop with GO! Dough just fill out the form here or call Member Services, at 1-800-692-7816, and our team will be happy to help process her order.

The GSHPA Retail Team is so excited to bring new Girl Scout apparel and items to our members, families, and friends! Be on the lookout for upcoming retail sales and events on our social media pages!