The 11 Girl Scouts of Troop 5897 in Davenport have been working their curls off to sell cookies these past six weeks, hoping to pay for a spring trip to the Grand Canyon.
The farthest any of these 9- to 11-year-old girls have ever traveled has been to a neighboring state to visit relatives. For now, though, the trip will be postponed, despite a surprise benefactor who brought them $1,000 closer to their goal.
After hearing about the girls’ efforts, a former Girl Scout leader wrote a personal check for $1,000 to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois council, which passed it on to Troop 5897 on Friday. The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, helped her troop raise money for a trip out West when her daughter was young and noted that “trips like this one can be life-changing.”
“The community is amazing, the girls are amazing and no matter what, we will make it to the Grand Canyon. For now, it will just take us a little longer,” Troop 5897 leader Brittany Dawson said Friday.
The girls set out to sell 10,000 boxes of cookies.
“It has been a rough sale this year,” she said. “The weather was so much worse than last year, so we didn’t come close to our goal for the trip.”
The goal was to raise $4,000 for the nine girls and adults. Before receiving the surprise check, they had raised $2,000. That’s a lot of $3.50 boxes, for which the troop receives 50 cents a box.
The set up a cookie booth in front of thousands of visitors at the Iowa/Illinois Regional Auto Show last month, where they sold about 650 boxes of cookies, plus received $250 in donations. A story about their effort in the Quad-City Times led to the cookie hotline “ringing off the hook.”
“We have been delivering cookies and cookbooks all over the Quad-City area,” Dawson said.
One of their deliveries went to a retired truck driver, who showed them pictures of a visit to the Grand Canyon area and shared stories.
The girls also came up with the idea of “business orders,” leaving cookie-order forms at various businesses that agreed to allow the girls to deliver cookies. Last week, they shipped cookies to someone who attends college in England and sold cookies around her dorm.
Instead of the hoped-for spring break trip, the girls will end up enjoying a pizza and pool party during spring break this week. Then, they’ll continue fundraising.
They’re keeping their eyes on the prize.
“These wonderful girls came up and hugged me and said to me ‘Don’t worry, Bee, the Grand Canyon will still be there for us this summer,’” Dawson said.
The girls have soldiered on, never losing the Girl Scout spirit.
“We were out selling and one of our girls suddenly yelled, ‘Oh, my gosh! Stop!’” Dawson recalled. “They jumped out of the van and ran to help an elderly man who was shoveling snow off his sidewalk.”
During weekend cookie booths at grocery stores, the girls helped people to their cars with groceries and even took some money from their donation jar to give to a woman who was short of money and counting pennies to pay for diapers.
Nissi Marketing, Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream and Mix 96 also made donations to the trip fund. The scouts are hoping for donations from several other major businesses after completing application steps.