Troop 6000 is made up of more than 500 young women living in shelters around New York City
These Girl Scouts are making life a little bit sweeter.
Troop 6000, a New York City-based Girl Scout troop comprised entirely of homeless young women, continued their first-ever cookie sale Friday, drawing in hundreds of people waiting in line for hours to get inside Kellogg’s cereal cafe in Union Square one box of Thin Mints and Tagalongs at a time. They’ve already sold 17,000 boxes.
“It’s important to show other girls that it doesn’t matter where they’re from, or the problem they’re in, they could still be a Girl Scout,” 10-year-old Sanaa, a Girl Scout from Troop 6000, told Moneyish.
Sanaa was living with her mom and two brothers in a one-bedroom homeless shelter in Long Island City, Queens where the troop was founded last year. Since then, her family was able to relocate to a home of their own on Staten Island.
“Living in the shelter was kind of hard before Girl Scouts. I thought I was different from everybody else because they had an actual home or apartment, and I was living in a shelter, so I would separate myself,” Sanaa said. “It was kind of tough because the room was cramped, and I didn’t have any space, but I got used to it. Girl Scouts brought everybody together. We all started talking together, walking to school together and playing in the hallway.
“Now we’re in a new home where I can actually play with my own toys,” she added, smiling.
Sanaa was one of 40 young girls from six different shelters across New York City on site selling boxes of America’s favorite cookies. They set up shop on Tuesday, and hoped to hawk 6,000 boxes initially. But after kind-hearted New Yorkers bought them out by Wednesday night, the troop has restocked for the end of the weekend. Customers can stop by the cookie sale from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, or donate online. Plus, proceeds of Kellogg’s NYC specialty menu items, including cookie-themed cereal bowls like the Mint-a-li-cious Goodness with Cocoa Krispies and Thin Mints, will also be donated to Troop 6000, according to the cafe’s website.
“We’ve had such an overwhelming response from the community about this program,” said Giselle Burgess, Troop 6000 founder and program manager.
Burgess and her five children became homeless in August of 2016, and enrolled in the New York City homeless shelter system.
“When we got there, there was no sense of community; it was very overwhelming and scary,” she said. “As a parent, you have to make sure that your children feel safe at all times. I asked, ‘Would it be okay if I started a troop at the shelter?’ Everybody was like, ‘Yes, absolutely do it.’”
The troop was formed last July when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced an investment of more than $1 million to give at least 500 homeless women and girls aged 5 to 17 at shelters across New York City the opportunity to join the Girl Scouts program. It started with eight girls, including three of Burgess’ own daughters, in the Long Island City shelter. Their first official meeting had 17 girls. Now they have 291 members throughout 14 shelters across the the city.
“They get that sense of community, that feeling of belonging to someone, to connect with them, to speak with them,” Burgess said. “A lot of our girls, including my own daughters, were ashamed and scared, and didn’t want to talk to their friends about it — but you need to talk about it. With these girls, they’re sisters and they act like sisters. They’re there to support each other, and be able to relate to each other. They’re so empowered, they’re so ambitious,” she added.
There were 100,000 homeless children in New York City public schools from 2015 to 2016, and a record 1 in 7 New York City elementary school students will be homeless at some point during their schooling, according to a report from the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness .
The cookie sale united eager supporters, including Alice Lilly, a 76-year-old former Girl Scout from the Upper West Side, hoping to snag a few boxes of Thin Mints.
“These are girls who need our support,” said Lilly, who waited in line for 20 minutes.
Research has shown that young women involved in Girl Scouts have a stronger sense of self, and achieve higher levels of education, and are more likely to reach a higher socioeconomic status.
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