Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How donations make a real impact on Girl Scouts

When you buy one package of Girl Scout Cookies, you’re creating a ripple effect that impacts an organization 61,000 girls strong right here in southeast Texas. In San Jacinto Council, girls earn 16 percent of the funds from each package sold. That 16 percent from the box of Thin Mints really starts to add up when a girl sets a goal of selling a couple hundred packages and reaches it.

Through one purchase, you as a cookie customer have taught her how to make a business plan, set a goal and manage her money so she can take the funds she’s earned to do amazing things. Maybe she’ll use the proceeds to complete a service project with her troop. Maybe she’ll go to summer camp and learn a new skill. Or maybe she’ll attend a workshop that gives her a sneak peek into a career she might someday pursue. Through purchasing just one package of cookies, you have made all that possible for one girl to accomplish.

It’s something GSSJC donor, Council volunteer and board member Pilar Grantham has seen happen time and time again during her tenure as a troop leader. “Donations large and small make a real impact to Girl Scouts,” she said. “From my troop’s perspective, we fund all of our activities from the portion the troop keeps from [cookie] sales. My troop of 13 girls budgets about $38 a meeting and about $325 a camping trip, so each time you buy a box of cookies, it has an immediate effect on the amount of activity the girls experience.”

Of course, larger donations to the Council, along with funds earned in the Cookie Program, also help San Jacinto Council build and maintain its many camp properties and robust program activity menu for girls. “So many of our troop activities occur at the camps or in events sponsored by the Council for which there is no substitute – activities like archery, geocaching, campfire cooking and horseback riding,” said Pilar.

“When you see the sense of accomplishment and pride on a girl’s face when she has tried something new or earned a new badge, you can feel the direct importance of giving to the Girl Scouts. It is humbling and an honor to watch a girl develop a stronger sense of self and her own leadership style.” Growing up, Pilar was a member of Girl Scouts in the Texas Panhandle and loved earning badges where she completed hands-on projects, like woodworking, sewing and more. (In fact, she shares, she even still has the wooden recipe box she built to earn a badge at just 9 years old.)

But her favorite memories come from her summers at Camp Rio Blanco. She earned cookie camperships to attend camp for two summers and loved spending her nights in covered wagon-style tents and taking hikes through arroyos at dawn, learned how to retire a flag and learned songs she has since passed on to her own troop. She even confesses to chasing tarantulas, though “I’m not sure our counselors saw that part” she adds. “In all the fun I had as a Girl Scout, I was also learning to step up, to try new things and to look beyond myself,” said Pilar. “From these experiences, the skill I've maintained is versatility and never being afraid to try new things.”

Which is exactly what Girl Scouts is all about. Knowing that Girl Scouting provides girls the opportunity to try new things and learn new skills is why Pilar gives her time and talents to her troop but also why she gives financially to the Council. “Girl Scouts is the best organization I know dedicated to development of the whole girl,” she said. “We truly believe in the greatness of girls, and our programs provide a springboard for girls to develop in confidence and character.”