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Ferndale Mom, Teacher Leads Brownie Troop for 15 Kennedy Students

Jennifer Lavender started a Brownie Troop after finding there was nothing available for her daughter's age range. She says the group is teaching kids about self-esteem, healthy choices and more.

For Ferndale mom Jennifer Lavender, the 1,500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies stacked up in her house are no big deal - it just comes with the territory of her new role as Brownie Troop leader.

Lavender is the leader of a Brownie Troop (the area of Girl Scouts for grades two and three) that includes her daughter, Violet, and 14 other girls from Kennedy Elementary School.

Lavender knew 7-year-old Violet would love being involved in the Girl Scouts, but when it came time to sign up there wasn't a group for her daughter's age range available in the area.

Not wanting her daughter to miss out, Lavender decided to start her own group.

“Girl Scouts is something that I thought she'd really enjoy and I thought it'd be a great experience for her,” she said. “So I just kind of stepped up and decided to go through the training.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Lavender says she had a pretty good idea what she'd be getting into.

“It's somewhat similar [to teaching] in a lot of ways. I felt pretty comfortable taking it on,” she said.

Ferndale mom Leslie Maeder-Knopf joined Lavender as co-leader of the group. Now, with a bustling Brownie Troop of 15 girls, Lavender says things are going great.

“It's been going really well so far,” she said. “[Violet] has a lot of fun with it.”

Not only has her daughter made new friends, she's also learning about living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of yourself and community service.

As the troop gears up for its first season of selling the famous Girl Scout cookies, Lavender says things are getting busier.

“With 15 girls that's quite a bit of cookie sales and it is a lot to go through. But it's not as overwhelming as i thought it could have been,” she said.

The cookies are an easy sell with many friends and family members anxious to get their annual cookie fix, but Lavender said it's important to keep the girls involved in the selling process.

“They just jump on it,” she said, adding that many customers have ordered full cases of certain flavors and plan to freeze them through the year. “They freeze well so they can buy a whole bunch and put them in the freezer."

But the girls are excited about the process - not only to take charge of the sales but also because the money they raise will help them get out into the community doing activities like cleaning up parks and taking field trips.

“It's them who's selling the cookies not necessarily mom and dad,” she said.

Lavender wanted to use social media to get the word out about the cookie sale, but she wanted to keep her daughter involved. So she helped Violet make a short video about her cookie sale and her goal to sell 100 boxes, and Lavender shared that with her Facebook friends.

“It spread around and it was really popular and it got a lot of orders that way,” she said. “I thought that was a good way for her to still be the one selling it but i could use social media to do it.”

Where to find cookies

Look for Lavender's Brownie Troop outside Kroger, Western Market, and possibly the Rust Belt Market starting the first weekend in March.

Don't carry cash? Not a problem. This year many cookie booths will offer an electronic payment feature, Lavender said.

“A lot of people don't carry cash anymore. If we have that available they might be more likely to buy more boxes,” she said. “We're excited to see if that really helps people to order more this year too.”

For more information, visit Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan here or email Lavender at fizzy1326@yahoo.com.

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