Lynne Lawson Fugate
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians
GSCSA Addresses COVID-19 Concerns (March 16, 2020)
Dear Girl Scouts,
In our effort to keep everyone updated and informed, we’d like to share as much information as possible as it develops. As you know, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation is fluid and seems to evolve on a daily, if not hourly, basis. It is the very definition of an unplanned crisis. First and foremost, our main concern is the safety and well-being of Girl Scouts, volunteers, families, and staff. We hope that everyone is practicing self-care and following CDC guidelines as related to COVID-19. If you have not yet read this helpful article, it gives some great information on how to talk to your kids about the issue.
Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians covers 46 counties in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia, which is a large geographic footprint affecting approximately 630 troops and nearly 15,000 girl and adult members. Please keep in mind this is unchartered territory, and we are all in the same boat trying to navigate an everchanging situation. We are hearing views and concerns from volunteers and parents in different communities across our Council that are landing at opposite ends of the spectrum. Our job is to try our best to come up with a plan that follows recommended guidelines and helps our members as much as possible. As of this writing, our footprint is not seeing the abundance of cases other areas are experiencing, but we lean towards being conservative and erring on the side of caution to continue our civic responsibilities as Girl Scouts.
Last night, the CDC announced it is discouraging gatherings and events that exceed 50 people in order to mitigate the possible spread of the virus. This means that all upcoming High Awards Ceremonies scheduled in April will be canceled. We will be back in touch to let you know about future High Awards plans. We are also canceling troop activities of more than 50 attendees with partner organizations through May 10. Several of our Council’s troops are large enough that this ban on gatherings will affect them. If your troop is large enough to fit this criterion, we recommend you follow the guidelines and cease in-person meetings.
We are following national guidance from GSUSA that all public cookie booths should be suspended. GSCSA has decided our sale will be extended until April 5. The Council is in ongoing talks with Little Brownie Bakers to assess inventories. Experience Managers and Member Services Representatives will be reaching out to each and every troop over the next few days to collect information on upcoming troop activities and the status of your cookie inventory. We are coming up with a plan to make sure troops are not burdened with excess inventory and ensure that our girls will still be able to fund their upcoming experiences and activities. We encourage girls to harness the power of social media to get the word out. Feel free to share your digital cookie links on social platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor. Some unique tips include:
- Porch Package - Customers are encouraged to buy cookies for in-person delivery and the girl will deliver them by leaving them on the customer's porch—like Amazon. Then people can get their cookies and avoid contact.
- Click and Collect - The reverse of a porch package. Customers buy online and the girl will leave the package on her porch for pickup by the customer, similar to an Amazon locker. Of course, take precautions to make sure packages are not stolen.
- Donations – Encourage customers to purchase cookies to donate to citizens who are on the front lines of this crisis. You may do a big push for people to go online to buy donated cookies that will go to health care workers, first responders, assisted living facilities, food pantries, etc.
- Virtual on-line booths - Girls can post their cookie links online, explain due to COVID-19 in- person booths were canceled and then introduce her virtual booth. Give girls tools on how to talk about why their virtual booth is important to their overall goals.
The bottom line is, we do not want you to worry or become frustrated about cookies. We’ve already heard some inspiring stories from several troops who are exemplifying Girl Scout ingenuity and spirit and are suggesting customers buy cookies to donate to food banks, hospital workers, and first responders, and they’ve had great success doing so. These go-getters are using their Girl Scout skills to problem solve, take risks, and create new opportunities to help others during this highly unusual time.
Please stay tuned as we have ongoing internal and external strategy sessions to gather as much information as possible to provide you with guidance. We may not have the answers for a few days, but we will remain Girl Scout Strong. We appreciate your grace, patience, and understanding while we all work through this together.
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Lynne Lawson Fugate