For the second time in as many weeks, the San Gorgonio Council of Girl Scouts, Redlands, CA, is facing national attention regarding it's controversial decision-making. Not even two weeks ago, a social media firestorm erupted when the council stopped the online efforts of 11-year-old Emma Vermaak. The young girl was attempting to collect donations for the Girl Scout's I CARE program to send cookies to the troops.
Even though Emma's social media campaign garnered over 500,000 impression on Twitter, as well as glowing praise, subsequent remarks by the organizations leadership, as well as deletion of the original tweet prompted a tidal wave of controversy on MSN, Forbes, The Huffington Post, CNET, CBS News, and other social media channels, television, radio shows, and blogs about the 101-year-old organization's approach to sales and marketing in today's technology-driven age. Our local KMIR 6 even interviewed the intrepid little entrepreneur who has received international praise for her "out-of-the-box" thinking.
Just when the controversy seemed to be dying down, a video from CBS News has brought the beleagued council to the forefront of national media attention again. Workers are seen gleefully destroying 13,200 boxes of perfectly fine Girl Scout cookies. When asked why they were destroyed instead of donated, "It's a shame what happened in Riverside," said Michelle Tompkins of Girl Scouts of the USA, "but food is wasted all the time."
The Girl Scout's stated mission is to "help girls develop their full individual potential; relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision-making; and contribute to the improvement of society through their abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others". After watching the video of the cookies being bulldozed and reading the numerous articles about the Girl Scouts refusing to allow Emma to collect online donations for the troops, their leadership ability is looking seriously questionable. What kind of values are they teaching? It is better to dump cookies than give them to the troops or the needy? It is better to refuse donations than use them to give cookies to the troops? It does not appear that the Girl Scouts are practicing what they preach. Children learn by example. What kind of example are they setting?
This story hits very close to me. Emma is my daughter. My mother was a Girl Scout troop leader. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout. My older daughters were Girl Scouts. We have a long history of positive experience with the Girl Scouts. My hope is that the leadership of the San Gorgonio council will reevaluates their priorities and make the necessary internal changes to ensure the longevity of this beloved organization. If nothing else, to preserve their own generous salaries. According to Guidestar.org, the two top executives of the San Gorgonio council make almost $200,000 per year. Divide that by the net proceeds from a box of cookies and you can see that it takes nearly 80,000 boxes of cookies just to pay their salaries. I can only hope that those daunting numbers do not have anything to do with their decision to dump the cookies rather than buy them back to donate.
A petition on causes.com has been started to encourage the Girl Scouts to donate cookies rather than destroy them.