Iowa Girl Scout troop on mission to sell cookies despite homelessness

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- When one troop of Girl Scouts in Iowa was given the goal of selling more than 1,000 boxes of cookies, the girls put on their signature sashes and got to work, flexing their entrepreneurial skills.

As of Feb. 26, the girls in Troop 64224 of Council Bluffs, Iowa, have sold over 5,000 boxes of cookies, shattering its sales goal for the 2021 cookie selling season. And it's all in spite of one large obstacle.

The girls in the troop live in an emergency homeless shelter known as Micah House.

"You can really see when they've got their sash or their vest on there is a sense of pride and belonging to something that is so respected," Beth Shelton, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa said. "That's always sacred and important for kids, but I think particularly during this pandemic."

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They also met another goal of selling to customers in all 50 states, and Washington, DC, Kayla Terrillion, a child program specialist at Micah House, told CNN.

Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, no challenge has proved too big for the troop. In fact, the push to online sales has been a boon for the troop. Terrillion said moving sales primarily online because of the virus helped get the word out for cookie sales. Members of the community -- and beyond -- have been able to order cookies online and pick them up or have them delivered, helping Troop 64224 reach its goal of selling cookies nationwide.

"Having everything on social media this year is completely different, especially for the girls," Terrillion with Micah House said.

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The troop size fluctuates depending on the number of families living at the shelter. The young girls ranging in from ages five to eight years old are not only thrilled about being Girl Scouts, but surpassing their goals is something the troop takes pride in.

These scouts are described as not only enthusiastic, but entrepreneurial. With about a month left to go on cookie season, this troop will keep selling.

"Like any smart businesswomen, they're going to be taking a look at those goals and reassessing," Shelton said. "They've got it figured out."

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Micah House's Girl Scout troop began in 2018. About 30% of the 11,000 girls who are members of the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa are a part of the free or reduced lunch program. Despite any financial issues girls living there face, they are given a free Girl Scout membership, Shelton said. The money from their cookie sales stays local and goes toward activities for the scouts such as field trips.

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