If you were ever a Girl Scout, then you probably have warm memories of your time in the organization. Memories of learning new skills, bonding with other girls your age and, of course, selling Girl Scout cookies. 

But for a group of girls in New York City, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America is so much more than that. For Troop 6000 — a Girl Scout Troop that is made up of girls in the New York City shelter system — the Girl Scouts represent stability, community and a sense of normalcy in a stressful period of their lives. 

Girl Scout Troop 6000 was founded in 2017 by Giselle Burgess. While this Latina single mother of six had a job working as an office manager at a dental practice, she still struggled to pay rent and put food on her children’s table.

After a string of bad relationships, she and her children ended up at a Sleep Inn hotel that had been transformed into a homeless shelter. 

Burgess saw how her older daughters benefited from their involvement in the Girl Scouts in their neighborhood in Queens and she wanted her younger daughters to have that same experience, despite their living situation. 

Giselle Burgess hugs her two daughters. Courtesy of DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images.

With the help of New York City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer and the now-CEO of Girl Scouts of New York, Meridith Maskara, Troop 6000 was born. 

At first, the experimental troop only had eight members, including Burgess’s two daughters. But soon, the membership of Troop 6000 spread like wildfire. Now Troop 6000 boasts 700 members at 15 different shelters across New York City. 

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America may seem like a lighthearted extracurricular activity for school girls, but its impact is much more than that. A comprehensive study conducted by the organization found that Girl Scout alumnae have higher graduation rates and socioeconomic mobility, more leadership roles, and greater satisfaction in their work lives and relationships.

“The Girl Scout organization has shaped the lives of the majority of female senior executives and business owners, two-thirds of women in Congress, and virtually every female astronaut,” they wrote in their 2012 findings.

In 2017 Jimmy Fallon gave the troop $6000 on his TV show. Jessica Alba donated shampoo from her home products line, the Honest Company, to the girls.

But still, the girls can use more help. The troop is run almost entirely off of donations, since the girls’ parents don’t have the same resources other working-class parents do to provide their daughters with vests, badges and other trappings of the Girl Scout experience. 

If you’re a Girl Scout cookie lover and you aren’t already loyal to a troop, consider buying cookies from Troop 6000. Proceeds of the cookies go to activities like first aid training, field trips and Girl Scout camp.

There’s never been a sweeter reason to give back to the community. You can purchase cookies from Troop 6000 here.