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

April Fools, Girl Scout Style

March is a busy month filled with all sorts of activities, but as we say goodbye to March it is time to say hello to spring weather, the end of Cookie Season and APRIL FOOLS DAY.  

Yes, today we will be talking all about April 1st and sharing some of our favorite pranks with you!  

Green Milk & Cookies! 

Bring your friends and family a sweet surprise – delicious Girl Scout Cookies. So where’s the prank in that? We have used food coloring to dye the milk an unusual color to shock them! 

Girl Scout Cookie Swap! 

Since everyone is stocking up on those delicious Girl Scout Cookies it is the perfect time to swap out those cookies with veggies for some April Fools fun! 

Jello Toothbrush! 

Who doesn’t love Jello? Well your friends and family might not after this prank! Start by making your favorite jello (we recommend green jello for an extra Girl Scout twist!) and pour it into a small cup then add their toothbrush. Once it is set, simply place it where they brush their teeth and wait! 

Balloon Bang! 

Take on April Fool’s Day with a BANG! Just take a few balloons, blow them up really full and attach them to the back of a closed door! When your friends open the door it will hit the wall and pop the balloons! 

Juliette Gordon Low Prank! 

As you may know Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of Girl Scouts what better way to remind your friends and family members than by showing them? We printed out a bunch of tiny cartoon Juliette Gordon Lows to stick around the house – you should try the same! 

Unreachable Girl Scout Cookies! 

Instead of opening the package and swapping out the cookies inside, this prank will be on the outside of the box! Just take a box of their favorite Girl Scout Cookies and wrap it in tape, bubble wrap, etc. to ensure it is nearly impossible to reach the delicious cookies inside! 


Post by: Rebekah Stefl

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

Girl Scout Mom

I was recently asked to share a favorite memory from Girl Scouts. With the question, I was flooded with my experiences from Girl Scouts and immediately knew my answer was creating memories with my daughters. Although I was not a Girl Scout growing up, I have been a member for the last five years and have already made many amazing memories.  

Me and Izzy at our first Girl Scout camping trip!

Over the last 5 years, the Girl Scouts has helped my daughter and I bond while experiencing new things together. My favorite memories come from camping with my daughter’s troop. We have taken camping trips to Camp Happy Valley and Camp Small Valley. First, these trips were with my oldest daughter, Izzy, and then my youngest, Marley, when she was old enough. Due to my lack of experience going to camp, I was blown away at how awesome camping with the Girl Scouts was! We cooked over a fire, crafted, tie-dyed, hiked, shared stories, sang, and laughed A LOT. Watching my daughters build friendships and experience the outdoors are memories I will cherish forever.  

The girls at camp!

Another favorite memory that comes to mind when thinking about the Girl Scouts is working with my daughters at the fair. Each year, the local Girl Scout troops take turns running the infamous Girl Scout milkshake stand at the Shippensburg Fair. As explained earlier, having never been part of teams or groups I had no idea what we were signing up for! The first year Izzy and I worked the Girl Scout milkshake stand from 5-11pm with nonstop customers. I was in awe watching how well my daughter worked under pressure! The girls take pride in the milkshake stand knowing they are earning money for their troop. Over the years, we have taken many shifts and made a lot of milkshakes, and I couldn’t be prouder. 

Izzy waiting on customers at the Shippensburg Fair.

The last memory I will share is the countless cookie booths. Although at times, a cookie booth shift seemed like another thing I had to fit into my already busy schedule, they were opportunities to make memories with my daughters. During cookie booth shifts I got to watch Izzy and Marley gain skills by dealing with customers, pitching their ideas, and building friendships and trust with their troops. Treating ourselves to a box of tasty cookies at the end of a shift always left a sweet spot for the overall experience!  

Marley getting ready for cookie booth!!

Do you have Girl Scout memories to share? Let us know


Post by Gabby Dietrich

News: Girl Scouts collaborate with GrubHub for cookie delivery during COVID-19 pandemic

Girl Scouts knows it’s a challenging time for usual cookie selling techniques so we are getting creative! This year the Girl Scouts have announced a new collaboration with Grubhub. And, online ordering will be available nationwide beginning on Feb. 1 for people who don’t know a Girl Scout to order cookies and have them delivered directly to their home. Read more about the collaboration here.

Cookie Season is Upon Us!

C:\Users\jdelp\Downloads\Sign Cookie Season.png

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