Girl Scouts troops in Lewis County have been meeting via Zoom amid the pandemic, and troop leaders and parents have been grateful for the virtual social outlet during the school closures.
Jessica Swehosky, a Chehalis troop leader, was recently asked what Girl Scouts do besides sell cookies and she was eager to share the numerous projects the troops take on to help the community.
“I realized the perception of what Girl Scouts does for fellow young women is not at all accurate. Selling cookies is a part of Girl Scouts yes, but not the biggest,” Swehosky said.
Service Unit 629 serves most of Lewis and South Thurston counties and is broken up into eight troops led by volunteers. Sewhosky has been a troop leader for Troop 41248 in Chehalis for three years now. She said she enjoys being able to teach young girls, ages 5 to 9, new skills.
The money made from selling Girl Scout cookies goes back into the program and helps troops fund projects, community outreach programs and other activities.
Prior to the pandemic, the 12 girls in the Chehalis troop made 100 Christmas tree ornaments by hand and delivered them door-to-door to residents at the Chehalis West Assisted Living Center.
“The residents at Chehalis West were so happy to have a little holiday cheer from these awesome girls,” Swehosky said.
When the pandemic forced the Girl Scouts into virtual meetings, it didn’t stop their drive to help people in the community.
Over the course of the pandemic thus far, members of local troops made and donated cat beds to the local animal shelter, collected over 100 coats for those in need in a coat drive and are now working on ways to reduce litter around town.
“Though little, these girls have shown a lot of love and care during this pandemic for each other and prove how strong little girls can be,” Sewhosky said.
A troop led by Megan Berry in Centralia made face masks to donate to Mossyrock Elementary School and to an eating disorder clinic in Seattle. The girls also started taking virtual art classes through an art studio in Tacoma as a way to continue learning and be creative during the pandemic.
“Troop 45186 in Chehalis has spent more of their cookie money on community projects this past year than they have on activities for themselves. While working on money management badges, the girls learned about wants versus needs, the needs of the community and how to budget for healthy meals,” troop leader Kathi Fogde said.
Other community projects completed by local troops include the collection and donation of 20 40-pound bags of cat litter to the local animal shelter and 25 hygiene bags with socks, hygiene products and snacks given to the Lewis County Gospel Mission.
Jennifer Tarhovicky, with Troop 42885, said that aside from their many community projects and food drives, the girls camp four to seven times a year, though that wasn’t possible last year.
“We have girls K-12 from Winlock to Centralia in our troop and consider ourselves a tight-knit tribe of strong resilient women that love things like STEAM, camping, hiking, visiting the beach, traveling, cooking, crafting and simply broadening our horizons,” Tarhovicky said.
Those interested in supporting Lewis County Girl Scout troops, ordering a box of Girl Scout cookies or signing up to become a Girl Scout can visit www.girlscoutsww.org.