These Empowered Young Girls Do a Lot More Than Sell Cookies
Story by Robyn Paris | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner
Loosen your wallets and open up a notch on your belt – it’s Girl Scout cookie season again. We all love indulging in our favorite Thin Mints, Do-si-dos or Tagalongs but most of us don’t see all the amazing activities and services Girls Scouts do throughout the year. For Playa Vista’s newest Girl Scouts Troop 70935, the area’s youngest residents are learning they can make a difference.
Troop 70935 is comprised of girls ages 5 to 8 from Playa Vista, and includes both Daisies and Brownies, the youngest of the Girl Scout age groups. Troop member Eloise, age 7, says, “I like Girl Scouts because you get to help people. For Thanksgiving, we made a meal box for homeless people called Boxes of Love.”
Hailey, age 6, was proud that her troop “adopted a family [over the holidays] and gave them things like clothing and food.”
Charlotte, age 7, adds, “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to do Girl Scouts,” noting that “Helping people is what Girl Scouts is all about.”
While all the girls in Troop 70935 live in Playa Vista, most go to a wide variety of schools including Playa Vista Elementary, Westside Neighborhood School, Crossroads and Braddock Elementary. The troop is a great way to bring girls together who share a neighborhood but might not know one another otherwise.
Charlotte’s mom, troop leader Siobhan Spencer, explains she decided to become a leader because, “It was always a challenge to find ways for the girls to volunteer and give back to the community. We wanted to instill the idea of being a good citizen of the world.”
In addition to the Boxes of Love, cookie sales, camping trips and the adopt-a-family initiative, the troop turns helping others into a fun game through “Random Acts of Kindness Bingo.” The girls receive a bingo board with various tasks written in each square like, “Write a thank you card,” “Open the door for someone,” “Donate food” or “Plant something.” Girls cross them off as they complete the tasks and try to get five in a row. Says Eloise, “We do it because there are people who don’t have what they need. It’s nice to do things like bring in your neighbor’s trash cans.”
Ivette laughs and explains that having Eloise bring in the neighbor’s trash was enlightening. Eloise made a phone call to the neighbor, then took her two brothers to help. For the first time, she was in a leadership position and managed the whole process on her own. “She felt independent while doing something nice. [It was] cool to see the steps she was taking without me.”
Troop leader Jennifer Chan added that as a result of Random Acts of Kindness Bingo, her daughter Olivia started putting a lot of energy into to helping around the house. “She was opening doors, putting grocery carts away for other people in the parking lot.”
Siobhan explained that the point was to teach that you don’t need to earn a treat or reward for everything. “Finding self-fulfillment from doing good things is innate, it makes you feel good to do good.”
The goal of the Girl Scouts organization is to empower young girls. “Girl Scouts teaches our girls that they can be anything they want to be. They become little entrepreneurs,” says Jennifer.
While most of the troop’s leaders were not Girl Scouts themselves, Siobhan reflected, “Girl Scouts was always aspirational. I wanted to be that girl in the uniform.” Troop leaders add that from their perspective, Girl Scouts has evolved since the 1980s. “There are a ton of science and engineering-geared badges now, coding, and an increased emphasis on STEM curriculum,” Siobhan adds.
Each year, proceeds from cookie sales subsidize troop activities and volunteer efforts. With cookie sales officially underway, at the last meeting, each girl within Troop 70935 set their individual cookie sale goals with a baseline of 60 boxes per Girl Scout. One had a goal of 100, another 400, but Charlotte set her personal goal at 2,000 boxes, explaining, “I’m a risk taker so I put 2,000 and I know we can do it.”
Girl Scout Cookies are on sale now through March 8.