MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The members of Brownie Troop 20874 had a two-fold lesson with this season’s Girl Scout cookie sale campaign: financial literacy and the importance of giving back. The troop donated 10 percent of its cookie sales, a total of $200, to the South Mountain YWCA as their charity of choice in an April 1 presentation.
Troop 20874 is entirely comprised of girls who attend Jefferson Elementary School in Maplewood, and they were eager to be able to pay it forward in their community.
“We’re a co-op troop, and each parent signs up for a meeting and a lesson,” troop mom Marta Rodin said in a recent phone interview with the News-Record. “I believe that financial literacy and learning about philanthropy is important for young girls to learn, so I took on that lesson.”
Rodin said that last year the girls worked toward earning a money-manager badge as one of their lessons, and this year they decided to do a giving-back badge.
“This year we worked on Moonjars that were divided into three separate categories: saving, spending and sharing,” Rodin said. Moonjars are money-saving devices that help teach financial literacy. “We talked about philanthropy and why it’s important to support positive causes in your community,” she added.
There were three components to a troop member earning a giving-back badge: the troop member had to identify a philanthropic institution; she had to include her cookie sale customers in the process of giving back, and she had to successfully donate to her philanthropy of choice.
Rodin said that once the girls had a chance to consider what organization they wanted to donate a portion of their proceeds to, the choice was unanimous that they would give back to the South Mountain YMCA as part of the Y’s Annual Giving Campaign.
At some point, all of the girls in Troop 20874 had participated in an activity at the South Mountain YMCA, whether it was a summer camp, swimming lessons, or before or after care during the school year.
“The great thing about the Annual Giving Campaign is that the girls will be able to concretely see how their hard work will benefit someone right in their own community, and they can see how their contributions can make an impact at a place that they all have a personal connection to,” Rodin said. “Financial literacy and philanthropy are important lessons for the girls to learn, both in the classroom and in the community.”
The YMCA was pleased to receive a donation that had such a personal meaning for some of its younger members.
“I’m thrilled that the girls had the foresight to choose the Y as their charity of choice,” South Mountain YMCA Director James Goodger said in a recent phone interview with the News-Record. “I know they put in an incredible amount of work with their cookie sales, making sure that they explained to each customer where a portion of the money from the cookies was going and how it will help the community.”
Goodger said that the funds donated by Brownie Troop 20874 will go directly to the Y’s financial assistance program, which helps those who want to participate in the organization’s programs but cannot afford to do so.
“Our goal is to never turn anyone away for an inability to pay for something,” Goodger said. “The impact of the money the girls donated will be felt immediately because the focus is always on the kids here. The more activities we are able to provide for the children in the community, the stronger the community is as a whole.”
Goodger said that the Y’s Annual Giving Campaign is a year-round initiative, and he’s excited that the troop wanted to pay it forward to a place with which they have all had a positive experience.
“A lot of people forget that the YMCA is a nonprofit, and we support a lot of other organizations in the area that have programming that we feel will benefit those we are serving,” he said. “Because of generous donations like the one that the Brownie Troop gave us, we are able to work with children from all walks of life. To me, the greatest part of the whole initiative was the fun that the girls had learning to support others.”