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Girl Scouts help hospital workers, homeless youth with cookie sales

Girl Scout Troop 642 is made up of

Girl Scout Troop 642 is made up of 11 Native American girls who live on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. During their cookie-selling season, they decided to donate boxes to the staff of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and several local food pantries. They're also raising money for Troop 6000, which consists of girls living in shelters in New York City. Credit: Barry Sloan; Photo credits: Barry Sloan, Shavonne Smith

The Girl Scouts of Troop 642 decided to use their annual cookie-selling efforts as a way to give back — and what they’re doing is even sweeter than a Thin Mint or Tagalong treat.

The troop is donating cookies to the employees of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, along with several local food pantries. They’re also raising money for Girl Scout Troop 6000 — based in New York City, the troop is made up of girls living in the shelter system.

Marit Molin, one of the troop leaders, said these girls have done plenty of community service even before the coronavirus outbreak last March.

"The work focuses on enrichment and empowerment for these girls," said Molin, of Water Mill. "They’re learning skills and learning new things, but it’s all very much about community service so the girls in the troop understand how to help people in their communities."

Troop 642 is made up of 11 girls, ranging in age from 7 to 12. They all live on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, said Molin. Until last March, that’s where all of their meetings took place. Now, they regularly meet via Zoom.

In the past, the troop has donated food to children on the free lunch program in Southampton and Tuckahoe schools and they’ve baked and delivered dog treats to a Southampton animal shelter.

They had never before tried to intertwine their cookie sales with community outreach, but Molin said this season felt different. The Girl Scouts are selling cookies through their website with an option to buy boxes to donate. They will be delivered to the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and local food pantries next month, Molin said.

So far, she said they’ve received orders for about 400 donated boxes — and troop leaders are still hoping for a lot more.

"The pandemic really made people step up," Molin said. "This year, people are much more aware of the needs."

Shavonne Smith’s daughter, Syvana, has been in Troop 642 for a little more than a year. Smith went to Molin with the idea of fundraising for Troop 6000. According to its website, Troop 6000 meetings are "held in more than 20 shelters across all five boroughs of New York City," under normal circumstances (the meetings are now virtual).

"Our goal is for some of the profits from our cookie selling to be donated to those girls," Molin said. "We’re also thinking of maybe giving them arts and crafts supplies; we’ll be reaching out to them and asking them about their needs."

The girls are enthusiastic about this idea, including Syvana, 12. "I feel good about it because they don’t have much money and donating some of that to them will help them to do some different activities," Syvana said.

Smith is proud that her daughter is a Girl Scout.

"I was a Girl Scout when I was her age, and younger," she said. "I was on one of the cookie boxes one year. So I’m glad she’s a Girl Scout — it’s been a great experience for the girls here on Shinnecock and we’re just glad to be a part of it."

Natahne Dennis got her daughter, Jaycen, involved in Girl Scouts this past year. Dennis was dubbed the "cookie mom," and took on responsibilities with cookie orders and Troop 642’s website. Dennis is impressed with how often Molin "gets us out in the community."

And so far, Jaycen, 8, has sold scores of cookies to her family, along with the donation orders.

"Once we set up our site and we shared the link, I set her initial goal at 150 boxes," said Dennis, who lives on the reservation. "She cleared that within 24 hours."

Molin said the girls are always enthusiastic while brainstorming ways to serve their community, and bring up ideas of whom they can help next.

"It’s very exciting to see a group of girls to be so excited about giving back," she said.

Smith said the lessons her daughter is learning from the troop are invaluable: "Marit is really getting the girls to be involved and to be appreciative, and I think it helps kids develop a sense of gratitude and compassion for others."

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