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It’s Girl Scout Cookie season! Here’s how to help a troop of homeless girls in NYC

TODAY logo TODAY 2/5/2021 Kait Hanson

That viral tweet you've seen is true: You can order Girl Scout cookies to support homeless girls in New York City.

Girl Scout Troop 6000 is tailor-made for girls in New York's shelter system. An estimated 70,000 people live in the city's homeless shelters; the average stay is 18 months before families transition to permanent housing. During that transition, Troop 6000 helps girls enjoy close friendships and plenty of support.

Founded in 2017 by Giselle Burgess, a single mother of five who lost her home, Troop 6000 meets weekly in more than 20 shelters across all five boroughs of New York City. The "six" in the troop's name differentiates it from others in New York City’s five boroughs, which are labeled with 1000s, 2000s, 3000s, 4000s and 5000s.

"Our mission is to instill girls with courage, confidence and character,'' Burgess told TODAY in 2017.

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For the girls of Troop 6000, Girl Scouts provides consistency and community that might otherwise be difficult to achieve.

"Shelter used to be just three hots and a cot, but now that we've got 70 percent of the shelter system is families, we have to help children not end up back in the shelter system when they become adults," New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks told TODAY.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 6000 often can be found singing, working toward badges and building bonds of sisterhood — but their connection goes beyond troop meetings.

"It kind of feels like you're not alone,'' a Girl Scout named Sinai told TODAY shortly after Troop 6000 launched. "It shows you that you're not the only one who has the same problem."

Related: “We want to say, ‘Leave us alone and let us teach our babies,’” one principal said.

As is the case with other scouting troops across the country, 100% of proceeds from cookie sales and other fundraising efforts go toward the troop's badge activities, uniforms and field trips.

Troop 6000 also launched a "Transition Initiative" in 2018 to make sure girls and their parents could continue to have access to Girl Scouting no matter what, even after they leave the shelter system and find permanent housing. The program provides welcome home baskets with personal care items, connections with local Girl Scout troops, and needs-based financial aid for up to three years.

"We're all Girl Scout sisters,'' a scout named Karina told TODAY and NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford. "We're all a pack. And if you see a girl with '6000' on, it just makes you like, we've gone through the same thing or you're still going through it."

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