Girl Scouts of Western New York today moved formally to all-online sales of cookies, after two weeks ago cancelling more than 750 planned, in-person cookie booth sales stations, given the region’s current virus restrictions.
“As with so many organizations and individuals, the virus-related shutdown hit our girls at a most unfortunate time," GSWNY CEO Alison Wilcox said Monday. "This is when they would ordinarily be outside of stores and churches selling their Shortbreads, Thin Mints and the whole array of wonderful Girl Scout cookies.
"Since that’s not presently possible, we want everyone to know that they can go online to buy cookies, either for themselves or to donate to health-care workers, first responders and our older citizens.”
“Especially at this challenging time for everyone, girls still need program outlets, and with our cookie entrepreneurial program, Girl Scouts are learning how to be agile and innovative by switching to virtual business programming,” Wilcox said.
The online cookie program may be accessed here http://www.gswny.org
Interested buyers or donors may also email GSWNY at: [email protected]. A representative will match them with a troop, or, they can contact Girl Scouts and adult troop leaders they know directly.
GSWNY serves multiple counties – Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming – and online cookie sales are available across the region.
GSWNY made it clear through multiple communications that girls and volunteers may opt out of this year’s cookie program without penalty. Continuing is a choice.
“We certainly recognize that from the perspective of a health crisis, cookies aren’t as significant as fighting this virus, staying healthy or coping with its symptoms,” Wilcox explained.
But this still hit us at the worst-possible time as an organization because the cookie program funds the majority of our programming budget, allowing girls access to STEM programs, outdoor activities, summer camp, community service projects, trips and travel, art adventures, and more.”
All cookie proceeds stay in Western New York.
Troops earn proceeds from each cookie box to fund their adventures and set goals many still want to reach. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, GSWNY was projecting goals to be exceeded for 2020.
“Despite our nation’s current challenges, we still want to help our Girl Scouts learn business skills, and help them understand the realities all other businesses face right now that require agility, innovation, switching to virtual, and maintaining business ethics,” Wilcox added.
“How to transport cookies from seller to buyer and/or charitable recipient is a challenge under societal restrictions in place.
“We don’t have perfect answers, and we of course want everyone to be safe,” Wilcox said. “Generally speaking, girls should not do anything in person, so preferably girls would leave cookies outside their homes or apartments for pick up, and the community partner who is donating, or the recipient, would pick them up.
"If this sounds like more effort, it is. And we are cognizant of not exposing anyone to infection, or making Girl Scouts’ addresses public.”
She added that an example of how modified delivery might work occurred with a troop that sold cookies to donate to a hospital, and a person known to the troop who works at the hospital picked them up and took them in on their shift. In some cases, Wilcox said, GSWNY staff might be able to distribute them.
“To make this work safely and as easily as possible, everyone will need to be flexible and creative,” she said.
GSWNY recommends that buyers who are concerned about safety should always follow CDC guidance.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out at 1-888-837-6410 or email [email protected]gswny.org.