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Cowlitz County Girl Scouts move cookie sales from neighborhoods to websites

Cowlitz County Girl Scouts move cookie sales from neighborhoods to websites

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Last year, second-grader Nita Berg of Kalama sold Girl Scout cookies at her local Walmart and Safeway.

Now, she holds cookie booth sales over a livestream video on her mom’s Facebook page.

“I’m making calls, I’m selling cookies online,” said Nita.

To protect members from the airborne coronavirus, Girl Scouts such as Nita are not permitted by the organization to sell Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs and the organization’s five other signature cookies door-to-door.

Instead, cookie buyers can order directly from members’ individual Girl Scout websites without in-person contact.

During the roughly 20-minute Facebook Live events that Jennifer Berg and daughter hold, cookie buyers place orders by commenting on the video or going directly to Nita’s site.

Sometimes Berg posts Nita’s cookie URL on community Kalama Facebook pages.

“It’s kind of like a booth on the Kalama pages for the girls individually so they can get sales,” said Berg, who is also the troop leader. “Gotta do things differently because of COVID.”

Last March, physical cookie booths were shut down by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, which is the operating council for troops in 18 state counties. The organization continued contactless sales this year.

Selling cookies is a little harder this year, said Nita, because she sees fewer people, though she’s sold about 630 boxes so far.

“And guess what?” she asked. “Last year I sold over 1,000.”

Those sales awarded her a sweatshirt and bracelet. This year, the 8-year-old’s ultimate goal is a lofty 1,300 boxes.

Throughout 2020, Girl Scouts had little in-person meetings, and completely switched to virtual meetings last November.

Nita meets her 18 other troop members over Zoom once a week for dance parties, crafting, badge earning and, of course, cookie selling strategies. A portion of sales for each $5 cookie box helps to fund upcoming troop programs, such as online horse camp.

Fifth-grader Carly Coons’s Longview troop didn’t register in 2021 thanks to the pandemic. When it came time to sell cookies, the 11-year-old opted to continue as a solo scout and go for her goal of selling 1,000 boxes for the third consecutive year.

Carly and her mom Kristy Coons have found there’s a high demand for the cookies locals can’t easily grab at booths outside stores such as Fred Meyer or Walgreens, where Carly sold last year. This year, knowing a Girl Scout gives buyers an edge in the market, said Coons.

“It’s literally just been through Facebook posts,” she said, “with people sharing ‘oh we got our cookies,’ and then they have friends like ‘oh, where’d you get your cookies?’ “

Girl Scouts have been selling to family and friends online since January, but the public sale runs March 1-24.

People who don’t know a Girl Scout personally, can visit www.girlscoutsww.org/en/cookies/find-cookies.html to order cookies from one of the 17 Cowlitz County troops and have orders shipped by mail, or delivered by a Girl Scout, who is recommended to knock, then back away from doors to prevent close contact. Free shipping started March 1.

Troops receive cookie orders at different times, so delivery by scouts varies. Nita and Carly received cookies last week and have delivered most of their current orders.

Locals can also look for Girl Scout cardboard signs hanging from their front doors. That means, a Girl Scout is in the neighborhood and the door hanger will explain how to order cookies online.

Both Nita and Carly are still shooting for their goals in the last few weeks, in addition to giving back.

“I like having a goal of selling 1,000 boxes every year,” said Carly, “and this year I’m donating boxes of cookies to the staff at my school because they work so hard to be our teachers and I want them to enjoy the cookies too.”

Vanessa Blea, with the Girls Scouts of Western Washington, said the organization helps scouts overcome challenges, even during a pandemic.

“We teach our Girl Scouts every day that no obstacle should stop them from their goals,” she said. “We encourage them to learn from challenges and find new ways to overcome them.”

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