A Girl Scout troop in Council Bluffs is turning cookie sales into opportunities for girls who are homeless.

The Micah House Homeless Shelter sponsors a troop that’s sold more than 4,000 boxes of cookies so far, with money raised going to field trips for the girls and their families. Shelter associate director Ashley Flater says the troop gives the girls a chance for stability and fun.

“That’s the way that we’re going to improve their self confidence,” Flater says. “That’s how they’re going to learn and grow and make those connections that help determine what their future looks like.” Last year, the troop sold more than 20,000 boxes of cookies to customers in all 50 states.

This year, the girls are asking each buyer to consider giving an additional box of cookies to a friend or neighbor. Kayla Terrillion oversees the shelter’s Girl Scout program. She says it’s about more than just badges. It’s about community.

“Most of their friends probably have no idea what it’s like to be homeless,” Terrillion says.
“And so for them, it’s the idea that I’m here, and everybody else is going through the same thing that I’m going through.” Cookie sales can pay for things like zoo passes or going horseback riding, while Terrillion says meeting cookie sales goals empowers the girls.

“Some of these kids are pushing against the odds right now,” she says, “and what better way to show that we can beat the odds then by starting with Girl Scout cookies?” The troop will be accepting orders until the end of March.

(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)