Katherine Westra is embracing modern technology for Girl Scouts to employ during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her troop, known as JoSheWe or Jolietville/Sheridan/Westfield, began a partnership with GrubHub this year that allows the Scouts to sell their cookies through GrubHub, an app commonly used to order food in restaurants. Cooke sales end March 21.
“The challenge for this year is we have to stand outside and far away from the door, and it’s hard for people to hear you, especially with the masks on,” said Katherine, a cadet Scout. “But I liked doing the GrubHub booths. It was fun to fill orders and not have to see people as much.”
Katherine, a sixth-grade student at Westfield Intermediate School, said customers using the app place the order, and then GrubHub drivers stop at the location where the girls fill the orders, pick up the cookies and deliver them to customers.
Last year, the pandemic didn’t affect the JoSheWe troop too much.
“Last year, COVID did hit our troop, but we were pretty well wrapped up (with cookie sales) right as COVID was hitting, so we didn’t get hit as badly as some of the other troops,” said Katherine’s mother, Leslie Westra. “Last year (before COVID), we did lots of door-to-door sales. We did the sales where we were in Lowe’s and at Kroger and standing in entryways.”
Leslie said there was an online order option last year for the first two weeks of cookie sales prior to the pandemic. This year, the troop offered cookies online throughout the entire sales window.
“This year, it has been able to continue throughout the entirety of the sale, which has been really nice because a lot of people aren’t seeing the booths at the stores as much because they don’t feel comfortable going,” Leslie said. “People have been seeking out (cookies) on the Westfield Moms (Facebook) page or Westfield Chatter, and people are finding Girl Scout cookies (online) that way. It has allowed us to harness the power of the internet a bit better.”
Leslie said she hopes the JoSheWe Girl Scouts continue to pursue avenues like the internet and GrubHub for cookie sales and earning badges.
“I would like to see them use it again in the future,” Leslie said. “I would like to see some of these internet options and GrubHub options available. It’s one of those things that the internet and technology is not going to go away any time soon, so it would be a terrible thing if we found all these neat workarounds and then to not use them again.”
The internet has been a welcome addition to Girl Scout meetings, allowing Scouts to meet through Zoom and earn badges. Katherine earned a badge last summer by participating in a Zoom event with Purdue University and the Society of Women Engineers.
“They sent a kit to (our) house and then she participated in a full day worth of Zoom activities that were STEM-based and earned a badge for that,” Leslie said.
For more or to order cookies, visit girlscoutsindiana.org.
Staying active throughout the pandemic
The pandemic may have halted in-person meetings for the JoSheWe Girl Scouts, but the Scouts and their parent leaders didn’t let it be an obstacle. They utilized Zoom and participated outdoor activities.
“During the summer, their troop went horseback riding and did archery up at (Strawtown) Koteewi (Park) and was able to be outside and stay socially distant and wore masks for the entirety of that,” Girl Scout mother Leslie Westra said.
Girl Scout cadet Katherine Westra, 12, and her troop also earned their Bronze Awards during the pandemic.
“Our project was to set out bins in schools to recycle used-up markers for the Crayola ColorCycle program to turn them into diesel fuel,” Katherine said.
Leslie said staying in contact during the pandemic gave the girls a sense of community.
“Throughout the pandemic, (staying in contact) kept Scouting strong, and it’s such a good character builder,” Leslie said. “There’s been a sense of community still (even) when we’ve all been so isolated.”