By Kristine Bearss
A couple weeks ago at Roosevelt University’s Chicago Campus, students may have noticed some adorable munchkins trying to entice them to purchase their timelessly adored cookies with their sweet smiles and friendly waves.
Though the Girl Scouts are a household name, and their cookies are a household product, not everyone knows exactly what it means to be a Girl Scout.
Founded more than 100 years ago in Savannah, Ga. by Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts have now spread globally to more than 92 countries and support about three million members.
The Girl Scouts have taken the initiative to empower girls of all ages by teaching them skills such as financial management, group organization, team spirit and other qualities which will prepare them for future life endeavours.
Their official mission states that they, “[build] girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”
The Girl Scouts are the largest solely female-run organization in the world, and they are continuing to grow every year. They are also affiliated with more than 30 worldwide organizations designed to promote global health and social justice, including the United Nations, the Peace Corps and the National Urban League.
But what exactly does it mean when you pass your dollars over in exchange for a box of mid-afternoon snacks?
Shonda Dudlicek, adjunct faculty member for journalism and IMC, is also a Girl Scouts troop leader for juniors out of Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Hoffman Estates. She had some firsthand insight on exactly what it means to be a Girl Scout.
“The girls sell the boxes to raise funds for activities,” she said. “Camping, field trips — expenses that parents would not have to pay. Some troops take a portion of their money and give it to charities. Our troop collected donations every month for a different organization: The Buddy Foundation, Savers, and Children’s Home + Aid. We will be taking fun field trips with our portion. Our troop of 11 girls sold more than 2,600 boxes of cookies, and our troop earned more than $1,700.”
The girls work hard to earn this money, too. We all see it in their faces when we walk past their tables; their enthusiasm is genuine. They are thoroughly involved in every step that is taken in order to make those selling tables a reality.
Dudlicek added, “Most [girls] have been in Scouts since kindergarten — we have them vote on what they want to do. All the charities we donated to, they decided what to collect and where we would send it. My daughter, for instance, was the top troop seller with 805 boxes of cookies. And most of them were sold by her in the neighborhood, not by me or my husband selling them for her. We are really trying to teach the girls about budgeting, good life skills they’ll need.”
When the Girl Scouts were selling at Roosevelt, there was a random act of kindness that I personally experienced as a result of the table in the lobby of the Wabash Building.
All day, I had been walking past the table thinking to myself, “Why didn’t I bring cash to school today?” I wanted some of those cookies so badly.
However, classes did not permit the time to go get cash. After my final class of the day, I walked downstairs and decided to venture into the bookstore and ask if they offered cash-back on debit cards.
The girl working behind the counter said they did not. A lady standing behind me at the coffee mugs chimed in, “What did you need, hun?” I responded, “Oh, I just wanted to buy some Girl Scout cookies, but I don’t have cash on me, and I don’t have time to run get some before they leave. It’s okay.”
She smiled and said, “Oh, alright,” and we parted ways. I started walking for the revolving doors, and I heard her say, “Hun! Go pick out a box of cookies. I’ll get them for you.”
I was elated. Literally, the one thing I had been thinking about all day and knew I could not have was being given to me by a random stranger whose name I did not even know.
After a couple, “Are you sure?” exchanges, I picked up my box of Dosy-Do’s and practically hugged them. I asked the lady for her name. She said it was Tracey. I thanked her profusely, and that was that. This lady did not know me or anything about me, but that did not stop her from not only buying a box of cookies for a random college student, but also contributing funds to a great organization like the Girl Scouts.
These are the kinds of things that the Girl Scouts inspire, and ultimately, the kind of world that both the Girl Scouts and Roosevelt are striving to achieve.