• Cookie Kickoff in the news

    15 Dec 2014

    Nearly 1,000 Girl Scouts, family members and volunteers huddled at EverBank Field Dec. 7 for our third annual Cookie Kickoff. We got the best of the weather that day, allowing girls to visit learning stations, hear tips from last year’s top cookie bosses, enjoy picnic lunch with family members and have fun together. Jaxson de Ville paid us a visit at lunch. Dan Hicken, sports anchor for Action News, shot a live spot for his pre-game show with Girl Scouts and stumped us with a football question! Laura Caso of First Coast News interviewed Brownie Elizabeth and showed all of North Florida what cookie kickoff and Girl Scout fun is all about! Afterward, we braved the wind, cold and rain to cheer on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Click here to see First Coast News coverage from the Cookie Kickoff!

  • More than Cookies

    25 Nov 2014

    Being a Girl Scout volunteer doesn’t just mean endless hours of camping, cookies and crafting. How about chaperoning a trip to a science museum? Try canoeing on a warm summer day or helping eager girls learn archery.

    That’s the message the Girl Scouts is trying to get out in an attempt to recruit nontraditional volunteers. To make that goal easier, the scouts will launch a new online volunteer system in late November.

    “The majority of the volunteers are troop leaders. There’s a perception that that’s all there is,” said Mary Ann Jacobs, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council.

    Gateway Council includes St. Johns and 15 other counties in Northeast Florida. There are about 5,000 registered adult volunteer Girl Scouts in this area, and 2,000 of them are troop leaders. They help 13,000 girls each year.

    “Girl Scouts has provided a safe, fun and engaging place for girls and adult volunteers for over 100 years,” she said.

    Nontraditional volunteers typically assist troop leaders and have responsibilities that span from a few hours to a few days. Some examples — lifeguards, chaperones, event planners, kayak instructors, and, yes, people skilled with a bow and arrow.

    “The need is ever-evolving,” Jacobs said of these helpers.

    The new online registration program is called the Volunteer Tool Kit, and it will be available around the holidays through the website at

    The first step in volunteering on any level is to ...

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  • See How a Local Girl Scout is Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

    07 Sep 2014


    GAINESVILLE - Some say, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But one local student is giving dogs at the pound a chance to learn.

    The Alachua County Animal Services received new agility gear for the dogs to play and exercise with. It’s all part of one eastside high school student’s goal to do something for her community while working towards the Girls Scout gold award.

    Jennifer Banks worked on this project for more than 80 hours. She helped fundraise the money to buy the materials by selling girls scout cookies and actually built five different obstacles-- like a dog walk, hut and weave poles among other things.

    “The animals didn’t have much to interact with and the volunteers really wanted something that they could use to help socialize the dogs and interact with them. To help build confidence in animals that stayed there,” Banks said.

    Banks has been part of Girls Scouts for 13 years now, and hopes to one day become a girls scout leader.

    Check out this video interview of Jennifer Banks.

    source - WCJB-TV20

  • Comcast Donation Helps North Florida Girl Scouts Get Connected

    22 Jul 2014

    JACKSONVILLE, FLA – July 22 2014 – A local nonprofit organization is better equipped to train its members and volunteers after a donation from Comcast. The Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council received ten netbook computers and free Comcast services, including high speed internet and cable television.

    “We’ve been serving girls in Northeast Florida since the early 1920’s. Technology has changed a bit over the decades.  The generous gift of high speed internet access and ten Acer Netbooks from Comcast will enable the Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council to train girls and adult volunteers, “ said the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs. “Not all of our Girl Scouts and adult volunteers have access to high-speed internet.  Almost everything we do is moving into a robust digital environment.  Comcast’s donation will provide Girl Scouts access to the information girls need to be ready for college and a globally competitive workplace.”

    “Comcast is proud to support the great work of the members and volunteers of the Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council through this donation,” said Bill Ferry, Comcast North Florida Senior Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs & Community Investment. “Comcast is committed to giving back to organizations like the Girl Scouts in all of the communities we serve.”

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, Inc. is a registered 501C (3) organization with membership open to all girls in kindergarten thro...

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  • New administrative, meeting space planned for Girl Scouts' North Fork camp in Middleburg

    14 May 2014

    JACKSONVILLE, FLA - MAY 14, 2014 - Monica Flynn Jacoby still remembers her days as a Girl Scout in New Jersey.

    She loved being a Scout, loved displaying all the merit badges she earned on her uniform and loved the women who guided her troop.

    As a philanthropist, the part-time Ponte Vedra Beach resident has paid it forward.

    Jacoby’s $750,000 gift to the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council will fund an administrative and meeting space at the council’s North Fork Leadership Center in Middleburg. A groundbreaking ceremony took place Tuesday for the Monica Flynn Jacoby Center, which will be near the entrance of the 250-acre camp that borders the North Fork of Black Creek.

    Although unable to attend the ceremony, Jacoby said in a written message that she made lasting friendships, experienced adventures and learned lessons in Scouting. But she never “fully appreciated” the women who served as Scout leaders, she wrote.

    “Their dedication to our welfare, their commitment to giving us experiences to enlarge our world and their patience in dealing with us, especially during our teenage years — those virtues were amazing,” Jacoby wrote. “So today I am just passing it forward as a thank you to them and to all the wonderful women who dedicate themselves to our girls today. Our world needs strong women leaders, and the Scouting program fosters just that.”

    The Jacoby Center will be the latest investment in the camp, which the council purchased in ...

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  • Girl Scouts Honor Jacksonville 'role models' for girls

    13 Mar 2014

    Six of Jacksonville's most accomplished women were honored Wednesday at the 25th annual Women of Distinction Awards hosted by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council.

    Nearly 600 people attended the event to recognize the women's professional and civic accomplishments and contributions, according to a news release. 

    "Girl Scouts of Gateway Council is thrilled to honor the Women of Distinction who exemplify the values of Girl Scouts and are role models for girls," said Mary Anne Jacobs, the council's chief executive officer. "For 25 years, we've recognized women in the area who set the pace and clear the path for tomorrow's female leaders."

    The 2014 honorees are:

    • Pamela Chally, dean of the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida. Chally has a long record of community service, holding leadership positions with Brooks Health Care System, Sulzbacher Center, WJCT Public Radio, Ronald McDonald House and Haven Hospice, among others;
    • Jennifer Chapman, director of public affairs for Fidelity Investments, community advocate, entrepreneur and winner of the 2012 Jacksonville StartUp Weekend;
    • Marsha Oliver, chief officer of public relations and marketing for Duval County Public Schools, certified community coach and member of Eartha M.M. White Legacy Board, Volunteers in Medicine Board of Directors, and Jack & Jill of America Inc., among others;
    • Allison Korman Shelton, vice president of marketing...

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  • Girl Scout Cookies on sale in Gainesville

    28 Feb 2014

    When Rachel Benjamin received an email last year that there was a package for her at the Broward Hall front desk, she expected a small delivery.

    Instead, she found 15 boxes of her favorite Girl Scout Cookies tightly secured in bubble wrap.

    “I could deal with this,” the 20-year-old UF biochemistry sophomore said.

    With the 97th Girl Scout cookie season well underway, UF students will do anything to get a hold of their favorite cookies. Fortunately for Gainesville residents like Benjamin, cookie booth sales begin in town today.

    Mary Anne Jacobs, CEO of the local Girl Scouts council, said booth sales typically last about three weeks, depending on each troop’s schedule.

    Cookie lovers can find nearby sales with the revamped Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, which allows users to locate the closest booth by entering their zip code.

    In Gainesville, booth locations include the West Gate Publix, 125 SW 34th St., and the Haile Plantation Publix, 2755 SW 91st St.

    Julie Hill, a UF graduate student and leader of Troop 1688, said with the first weekend of cookie booth sales coinciding with the start of UF’s Spring Break, students usually buy the $4 boxes of cookies on their way out of town.

    Benjamin said she has about a box and a half of Lemonades left from the four her parents brought last week when they came up from South Florida for her birthday. Although she said she’s hoping there will be more waiting when she goes home for break, ...

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  • Changing the world, one cookie at a time

    28 Feb 2014

    Ah, spring.

    It brings Easter, March Madness and other time-honored traditions.

    Yes, Girl Scout cookies are back.

    Even the most diligent dieters find it hard to resist those little morsels of goodness, and Girl Scouts across the country will sell millions of boxes in just eight weeks. The program, now in its 97th year, not only helps girls develop their business acumen, but the proceeds stay within the community. The revenue helps local troops fund trips, service projects and volunteer training, as well as maintenance of camps and other properties.

    Girl Scouts of Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs, who has been on the job for a little more than nine months, finds it rewarding when she hears from girls of their experiences selling cookies and plans for the proceeds. She recently met one young girl whose troop is going to Peru with the proceeds from their cookie sales. In fact, many troops are able to travel internationally and participate in unique endeavors through their efforts with the program.

    “The cookie program is the largest girl-owned business in the country,” said Jacobs. “It teaches them about decision-making, marketing skills, team building and competition.”

    Beyond camp, crafts and cookies

    While the annual cookie sale is a huge part of the Girl Scout experience, it’s just one component of a multi-tiered program aimed at helping girls not only develop as leaders, but to build confidence by learning new skills....

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  • Girl Scouts to host second annual Unity Day in Columbia County on October 9 at Lake City Mall

    27 Aug 2013

    October is National Bullying Awareness Month.

    The second annual Unity Day in Columbia County, hosted by Girl Scouts of Columbia Service Unit, will be in the Lake City Mall on Wednesday, October 9, from 5 to 7 p.m., with pre event activities beginning at 3:30 p.m.

    "This event will hit home for many parents, students and teachers on the subject of bullying.  You may not think that this issue relates to you, but everyone should be concerned and prepared to deal with situations regarding this subject," said Unity Day organizer Crystal Curran. 

    "Bullying affects so many of our community's children, parents and teachers as well."

    This event encourages adults and children to get involved to help make a difference and spread the word to help other kids stand up for each other!

    The event begins at 3:30 p.m. with a bounce house, face painting, balloons, and more.

    Speakers, musicians and performers will take the stage from 5 to 7 p.m.

    "We are partnering with Columbia County School Board to include an art show by inviting students and faculty to submit artwork with Unity Day related themes, such as anti-bullying, friendship, community and peace-building," Curran said.

    Artwork will be displayed in the Lake City Mall October 9th through October 18th.  All artwork will be returned to the schools after the close of the exhibition to be returned to the artists.  For more details contac...

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  • Girl Scouts send smiles, cookies to Second Harvest

    13 May 2013

    First came a pallet full of Do-Si-Dos and Trefoils rolling into Second Harvest North Florida’s Jessie Street warehouse Monday in Jacksonville.

    Then assistant warehouse manager Isadore Celestine unloaded more pallets, each at least 6 feet high with donated cookies picked up from the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council warehouse.

    The bad news — no Thin Mints since they always sell out.

    The good news — the 1,200-box donation from the Girl Scouts will be a special treat combined with the regular food donations Second Harvest sends out to the nonprofit agencies it helps every day. Some cookies will also go into the children’s backpacks Second Harvest gives away when school starts in August.

    “Our clients are not likely to be able to afford something like that,” Second Harvest community engagement director Kimberly Mariani said.

    The Girl Scouts sold 1,251,137 boxes in 2012 in the Gateway Council’s 16-county area vs. 1,190,424 the year before. They usually give away about 300 cases to Jacksonville Naval Air Station for overseas sailor care packages.

    “Since we had a few more leftover this year, Second Harvest was the natural choice,” Gateway Council spokeswoman Nancy White said.

    Second Harvest serves about 450 member agencies in a 17-county area in North Florida, including church pantries, senior citizen centers, after-school and summer programs and shelters from Alachua to Union County.

    “We get cookies, but not Girl Scout cookies,...

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