British Columbia

Down to the crunch: Girl Guides seek new ways of selling 800,000 boxes of cookies amid COVID-19

The cookies are the primary way the organization raises funds — but they can't sell them in person

The cookies are the primary way the organization raises funds — but they can't sell them in person

Girl Guides across B.C. were gearing up to sell 800,000 boxes of chocolate and vanilla cookies — but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (Girl Guides of Canada)

Until a few weeks ago, Girl Guides across B.C. were gearing up for one of their biggest annual fundraisers: selling boxes of their classic chocolate and vanilla cookies.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic took hold — and now the organization is sorting out new ways to sell 800,000 boxes of the sweet treats. 

This year's batch of cookies was baked, packaged and delivered to 18,000 Girl Guide members across B.C. before stay-at-home and social-distancing orders took effect, cutting off their ability to sell the treats at schools, workplaces, stores and other usual locales.

So, the organization is calling on all cookie lovers to step up and do their part by pre-ordering or donating boxes to food banks or workers on the frontline of the pandemic.

The spring cookie sale raises $4 million annually, with nearly two-thirds of the funds going directly to Girl Guides in B.C.

"Those cookies power everything that we do as an organization. Every science experiment, every craft, every sleepover, every camp," said Diamond Isinger, provincial commissioner for British Columbia with the Girl Guides of Canada.

"Unfortunately, though, those deliveries coincided this year with COVID-19 growing as a major concern just a week or two after those deliveries were made, leaving us with a lot of cookies on our hands that we're figuring out how we can best sell in the safest and most logistically feasible way."

The spring cookie sale raises $4 million annually, with nearly two-thirds of the funds going directly to Girl Guides in B.C. (Girl Guides of Canada)

According to a statement, people can contact a Girl Guide in their neighbourhood or through friends to pre-order cookies for when sales resume or ask to donate them to a food bank, to frontline health-care workers or to other essential service employees.

Business owners providing essential services can buy cases and give them out to customers.

People heading to Canadian Tire to pick up essential goods can also pick up a box or two — or entire cases — to sweeten their days stuck at home.

The cookies have been sold in Canada since 1927 and have traditionally funded activities like hiking and camping. In recent years, the Girl Guides has expanded its scope to include international travel, advocacy, scholarship opportunities, art workshops, financial literacy, science events, mental heath awareness and more.

Girl Guides still go camping and hike, but in recent years the group's initiatives have grown to include international travel, advocacy, scholarship opportunities, art workshops, financial literacy, science events and more. (Girl Guides of Canada)

"There are a lot of really fundamental life skills associated with that, that girls gain through Girl Guides, so we are keen to be able to continue to deliver the programs that we've delivered for over 100 years, powered by cookies," Isinger said.

There has never previously been a significant disruption of the organization's cookie sales, she added.

"We really need the support of British Columbians in all kinds of new ways that we may not have done in the past to be able to sell the inventory."

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