ALPHARETTA — Standing amid some 200,000 boxes of Tagalongs, Samoas and Trefoils, Amy Dosik, CEO of the Cobb-based Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, said her team of girls would have no trouble moving this many cookies in a two week span. But things have changed during the pandemic.

The Girl Scouts’ cookie season, which typically runs from January through March, funds the organization’s bevy of programs in entrepreneurship, life skills, outdoor adventure and STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). But cookie sales have plummeted due to the pandemic, jeopardizing some of those programs.

“Overall we are down about 40% on a year-over-year basis in the cookie program,” Dosik said, despite a 150% increase in online cookie sales that could not compensate for the drop in cookie booths and girls selling door-to-door.

“What that translates to is a million and a half fewer boxes of cookies sold this year over last.”

The organization has extended its cookie season through the end of the month, and, with a total of more than 700,000 remaining boxes spread across warehouses in metro Atlanta, is calling on corporations and regular people to buy, buy, buy.

Duluth’s Najya Robinson, 14, has been a Girl Scout for more than two years. This year, instead of knocking on doors, she’s left flyers on people’s doors telling them how they can purchase the cookies online. In a normal cookie season, she would have sold some 700 boxes, but has only sold 500 so far in 2021. Troop meetings, once a regular occurrence, have been few.

“At those meetings, we would have earned badges and would have just had the time to learn new things and have different people come in and talk to the troop,” she said. “We all would have traveled, but the pandemic has also put a delay on traveling, of course, and we’ve just really missed a lot.”

Among the opportunities she’s had through the Girl Scouts are camping trips, visits to the Georgia World Congress Center and a “space camp.” Later this year, she hopes to attend a biomedical engineering summer program.

Those programs can have a profound impact on girls’ lives. According to Dosik, an overwhelming majority of female tech industry entrepreneurs, members of Congress and astronauts have been Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts’ year runs from fall to spring, concurrently with the school year. In Cobb, the number of troops dropped from 333 in the 2019-20 year to 251 this year. Booth sales fell from 934 to 211, and the overall number of cookies sold fell 45%.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta has lost more than sales. About a third of their girls have left since their previous year, and the drop has been especially steep in Cobb County, where membership fell from 4,757 girls to 2,523.

Nevertheless, Dosik is hopeful.

“We’re seeing things begin to turn around, as folks are being more confident as they’re vaccinated and feeling safer returning to in-person activities. And so we do see things taking a turn for the better.”

In the meantime, the unsold boxes remain. To order online, visit girlscoutsatl.org.

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