‘Please Consider Buying’ Girl Scout Cookies from ‘Troop 6000,’ ‘Entirely Made up of Girls Living in NYC’s Homeless Shelters’

On February 1 2021, a screenshot of a tweet was shared to Imgur which contained the claim that anyone interested in Girl Scout cookies without a scout to buy from could obtain an order from “Troop 6000,” whose scouts live in New York City homeless shelters:

Originally shared by Chris Darden (@cbdarden) on January 28 2021, the tweet read:

If you need Girl Scout cookies this year and don’t have a local troop to support, please consider buying from Troop 6000, which is entirely made up of girls living in NYC’s homeless shelters.

An additional link to girlscoutsnyc.org displayed the text “Troop 6000,” and linked to a page titled “Bringing the Girl Scout experience to girls in the NYC Shelter System.” A portion at the top of the page read:

Troop 6000™ is a Girl Scout program specially designed to serve girls in the New York City Shelter System.

Our long-term goal is to expand this program across New York City so that each week, Girl Scouts will meet in shelters across the city. Meetings will be led by trained troop leaders.

On January 27 2021, Good Morning America (GMA) and ABC News (@ABC) covered Girl Scout Cookie sales and Troop 6000. GMA tweeted a segment about the girls on February 1 2021, describing the girls as “thriving while experiencing homelessness”:

In May 2020, the New York Times profiled Girl Scout Troop 6000, emphasizing that the viral appeal of the story co-existed with its unsettling underlying elements:

On the morning after Easter Sunday in 2017, the front page of The New York Times featured a different sort of resurrection story. This one, written by the reporter Nikita Stewart, told of a Girl Scout troop that homeless families had formed in the threadbare hotel that functioned as a city shelter.

As an uplifting testament, the article went viral (in the pre-Covid meaning of the term) and attracted an enormous amount of celebrity support for the dozen or so girls in Troop 6000. They were feted on the TV talk show “The View,” hosted by the New York Liberty of the W.N.B.A. and given a supply of Jessica Alba’s name-brand shampoo. The founding mother of the troop, Giselle Burgess, received a $6,000 check from Jimmy Fallon on his late-night show.

That groundswell of response, with its complicated alloy of heartfelt generosity and overdog guilt, was surely the boon and the bane for “Troop 6000,” the book that Stewart has expanded from her initial article … Yet Stewart also has to struggle with the result of her own article. Troop 6000 was only several months into existence at that point. What would have been the more normal, gradual and genuine effort to build and maintain a Girl Scout troop in extremis was overwhelmed by its instant vogue. Any journalist or author who practices immersion reporting has to worry about the effect of his, her, or their presence on the subjects and events being observed. But in my decades of experience, I have never encountered a more nettlesome example than “Troop 6000.”

Troop 6000 was also the subject of a brief Wikipedia page, noting that the troop had grown from 20 girls in 2017 to 600 (as of April 2020). On the official Girl Scouts of NYC Troop 6000 page, a FAQ concluded with the following section, which underscored the mixed feelings inspired by recurring viral stories about a homeless Girl Scout troop:

I feel bad for girls in Troop 6000.

That’s understandable. Shelters provide families with much needed emergency housing, but children are particularly distressed by the process of moving frequently, losing comfort items (stuffed animals, favorite clothes, pets, neighborhood connections), and being uprooted from their routines.

Losing your home is a traumatic event to be sure. Many families that enter the shelter system have moved two or three times before they end up in a shelter, which can negatively impact a young person’s sense of stability and community if they are uprooted from their school, neighborhood, and friends. Troop 6000 is built to provide consistency, stability, fun, and community through an uncertain and stressful time in a child’s life.

Besides becoming a Troop 6000 leader or donating, you can make change in your community by advocating for affordable housing, welcoming a shelter to your neighborhood, and contacting your local service provider to find out how to best help according to their needs.

The FAQ also answered questions about Troop 6000’s participation in annual cookie sales:

100% of the proceeds from each box of cookies sold by members of Troop 6000 directly supports their troop experience and is used to pay for things like badge activity supplies, uniforms, field trips, and trips to Girl Scout Camp. Like all Girl Scouts, Troop 6000 members work together to set goals and to decide how their cookie profits are spent.

Darden’s tweet about Girl Scout Cookies was not the first time Troop 6000 had gone viral; this made the claims, which are accurate, easy to check. Girl Scout Troop 6000 is made up of girls living in New York City’s homeless shelters, and anyone can purchase cookies from from Troop 6000 online at this link. Anyone who wishes can also donate money to Troop 6000 in order to give girls “an authentic Girl Scout experience.”