Girl Scouts Troop 634 Lends a Hand to the Phoenix Community
Bright green cookie boxes filled with Thin Mints and Samoas might be the first image that appears when you hear the words “Girl Scouts.” However, this organization is about much more than just peddling these tasty treats.
The national Girl Scouts organization was founded in 1912 with hopes of inspiring girls to find their “strengths, passions and talents.” The Phoenix-based Girl Scouts-Arizona Pine Council includes more than 25,000 girls in kindergarten through twelfth grade, and about 11,000 adult members, troop leaders, mentors and program leaders.
Michelle Hubbard is one of those dedicated troop leaders, serving as leader of Troop 634 since 2006. She describes the whole experience of watching the girls in her troop grow over the last ten years as simply “amazing,” recalling one experience in particular with a shy girl in foster care who she saw blossom and go on to become the second best cookie seller of the bunch.
“It was so neat to see her rediscover herself, have some confidence and know that she’s not the horrible person she was told she was.”
That transformation is a perfect example of how the Girl Scouts aims to help young women thrive.
“[Girl Scouts] gives them really good life skills that you may not learn at home,” says Hubbard. “Some parents don’t teach those things and schools don’t teach them either. So here’s another avenue to help women feel empowered and confident, and to give them the tools they need to survive through high school, college, jobs and beyond.”
When the girls first join, they start out as brownies and earn “badges” for completing tasks like arts and crafts or hiking. As the girls grow older, the program becomes less structured and more tailored to the individual members’ interests. Some troops venture out into the great outdoors, others work with the local police departments, and all of the troops complete community service projects, which is Troop 634’s specialty.
“My girls love volunteering. They just cannot seem to get enough of it.
They have really big hearts and have a lot of fun doing different volunteer activities.”
Although her troop is based in the West Valley, they volunteer around the entire Valley. Recently, the troop donated about 79 backpacks for a back-to-school drive and sent about 20 stuffed animals to the Buckeye Police Department to give to kids in crisis situations. They’ll also be donating 2,000 Easter crafts to St. Vincent De Paul.
These numbers alone are impressive, but become even more so when you consider the fact that Hubbard’s troop is made up of just five girls, all 15 and 16 years-old.
And the troop’s biggest fundraiser? It’s most iconic one, of course—cookie sales. According to Hubbard, her troop gets roughly 75 cents per box during the February sales and uses the money they raise to help fund their community service projects.
“We’re always trying to do an awful lot with a small amount of money,” says Hubbard. “It’s really rewarding to see them take the wheel and watch them just drive all these things.”
Girls age out of the program at age 18, but they can continue to volunteer with the Girl Scouts as adults.
“You’re always green,” says Hubbard. “When they’re in a troop, they build lasting relationships … I have some core kids who have been in Girl Scouts for ten years. They’re really like a group of sisters.”
For more information on Girl Scouts- Arizona Pine Council, please visit GirlScoutsAZ.org.