04/28/06 — Girl Scouts raise $3,000 for projects

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Girl Scouts raise $3,000 for projects

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 28, 2006 1:45 PM

The Girl Scouts raised more than $3,000 in gifts and pledges at their second annual lunch event held in Goldsboro.

Each of seven table captains treated about nine of their friends to lunch Wednesday at the Goldsboro Country Club. Lunch was on the Girl Scout Council of Coastal Carolina. The purpose was to ask for money and to explain changes that have occurred in Girl Scouts, known worldwide for selling cookies.

But cookie sales have changed, said Vivian Warren, who was a table captain last year and a guest this year. She worked for the Girl Scouts in the 1940s when the council office was downtown in the old Community Building.

"The girls can't go from house to house any more, only if their mother goes with them," she said. And many of the girls today sell their cookies over the telephone, she said.

Girl Scouting has changed in response to changing needs in the community, said Marilyn Cantarella, who directs the council's fund development program.

"Girl Scouting remains relevant to today, although the organization is almost 100 years old," she said. "Cookie Sales is just a program to teach self-sufficiency, marketing and budgeting. It just happens to make money."

She said 30 percent of the council's budget is supposed to come from public support.

Girl Scouting used to be an after-school thing led by somebody's mom, said Coastal Carolina Council Director Debbie Tate.

And many troops are still like that. But today the Girl Scouts reach out to girls in the community who would not ordinarily be able to join.

The council has a Daisy Troop in every Head Start in the county but one, and that one is just for infants. Girl Scout troops are in public housing communities, the domestic violence shelter, migrant camps and all of the Boys & Girls Clubs.

The outreach programs are staff-directed. Stay-at-home moms are a scarcity today, and the $10 annual membership fee is a lot of money to a family of four living on the poverty guideline of $20,000.

The girls today are learning more social skills than things like sewing and crafts. There are some crafts today, but they are not a mainstay of the program.

"When you say Girl Scouts, the first thing that comes to mind is cookies, camping and crafts," said Ms. Tate. "But the real three C's are courage, confidence and character."

It costs $2 million a year council-wide to support all the Girl Scouts, she said. And for every girl the council serves, she said there are another 16 out there who are not receiving the benefits of scouting.

Ms. Tate said she could easily have been one of the girls who fell through the cracks. Her family was very poor.

"The school called Mother and said, 'Debbie needs to be in the gifted program.' She didn't know what they meant. Her biggest dream was for me to be a secretary, somewhere warm and dry and not standing on line in a chicken plant."

Council President Lucy Austin from Roanoke Rapids said she believes in today's girls, and she believes Girl Scouting can make a difference in the girls' lives.

The council serves more than 9,000 girls in 25 counties across eastern North Carolina, and it raises 65 percent of its funds through cookie sales, said Deborah Brady, the product sales coordinator.

That is a very strong program, she said.

But she said selling a lot of cookies is a fragile success.

"Anything that affects that also affects the future of Girl Scouts," she said.

The council announced a new program at the luncheon called the Gold and Silver Society. Gold and Silver Friends are those who pledge $500 over five years. The Friendship Circle members pledge $200 a year for five years. The Promise Circle pledges $1,000 a year for five years, and the Honor Circle pledged $2,000 a year for five years.

For information call the council office at 734-6231 extension 114.