NORTH CANTON Businesses, non-profits, schools, colleges, restaurants, retailers and millions of others woke up to a changed world in mid-March. They, along with millions of individuals, had to quickly adapt to a country and a world being changed by the COVID-19 virus.


Organizations like the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio were doing what it would normally do every spring it suddenly they also had to quickly adapt to a changed life. The Girls Scouts were in the middle of its cookie sales campaign when it had to cancel all the public booth sales events usually scheduled for March and April.


The organization quickly came up with a campaign called Eat Them or Treat Them where people can purchase boxes of cookies for themselves or buy cookies to give to those working in medical facilities or to the first responders.


“We have these amazing troops who are doing everything they can to sell cookies including virtual cookie posts to ask people to buy cookies to donate to first responders and others working in the frontline during this pandemic,” Chief Executive Officer for the Northeast Ohio Region Jane Christyson, said. “All of their efforts have been highly successful so far. It’s a double win because when people buy the cookies to donate, they are helping the Girl Scouts and the first responders. The other part of the campaign is that people can order cookies from a Girl Scout and get them delivered by mail or by a Scout when it’s safe to do so. We’ve even had some troops get the cookies into hospitals.”


While many troops are coming up with unique ways to get the cookies sold, Christyson said the organization doesn’t want families or troops to burdened by the situation.


According to www.girlscouts.org, “When you make a Girl Scout Cookie purchase, you’re helping the next generation of young female entrepreneurs get an important taste of what it takes to be successful — teamwork, planning, and a positive outlook (and that’s just the beginning).


“Because proceeds from your purchase stay local, you help the awesome entrepreneurs who sell Girl Scout Cookies in your community power new experiences for themselves and their troop.”


In addition to the effect on cookie sales, the Girl Scouts have had to cancel much of its spring programming, meetings and other activities through April 30.


“All public meetings and in person meetings have been cancelled. We started virtual programming on Facebook where the Girl Scouts can participate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Facebook programs have quickly become popular,” Christyson said.


There are also lists of podcast and videos on the Girl Scouts webpage that troops can recommend to the members to use to help achieve their badges. The national Girl Scouts site started a page call Girl Scouts a Home where troops have been meeting virtually.


Christyson said it’s amazing how quickly volunteers have adapted to the situation and the unique ways they have been engaging the scouts.


“We are launching a virtual meeting for girl scouts of any age and any level to join in. We have 25,000 scouts in area and any of them are welcome to join the meetings and get to know scouts from all over Northeast Ohio,” Christyson said.


She added that the goal of the organization is to teach the girls that “it’s not about you but about helping others. It’s about connecting to the community and helping out when they can and making things better and to helping make lasting change.”


“This crisis is another way to show the girls what they can do,” Christyson said. “It’s wonderful that we can still participate in virtual meetings and activities when programs like sports have come to a stop.”


Some of the community functions have gone on but in a different delivery. One troop had a nursing home visit scheduled but instead they all made cards and made a video to send to the nursing home. Many troops have been making masks for first responders.


The Girls Scouts in Northeast Ohio employee 90 people who are working from home during the Stay at Home order. The camp staff, many of whom live at the camps, are still working at the camps.


"We have three camps that are shut down to overnight camping and programs. But Girl Scout families can get day passes to go in and enjoy nature,” Christyson said


There are 18 counties in the northeast Ohio region with 13,000 adult volunteers, supporters and lifetime members. The local counsel is the 12th largest out of the 111 largest counsels in the United States.


“This program couldn’t exist without the volunteers,” Christyson said. “I’m amazed that the troop leaders have also had their lives upended through this and yet they continue to make Girl Scouts a priority. We have setup a virtual volunteer singalong on Facebook where over a thousand people have joined in from all over the country.”


Visit www.girlscouts.org/en/cookies/all-about-cookies.html to find out more about purchasing cookies from a local group of Girl Scouts.