Friday, February 5, 2016

2nd Annual Cookie Classic Run

More than 300 runners and walkers took part in the 2nd annual Girl Scout Cookie Classic Run on Saturday, January 30 at Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake. The race, which included a 5k Trefoil Trek and 1-mile Samoa Stroll, was organized by Girl Scout volunteers from Community 3, a membership area within Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast that includes Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk and surrounding cities.

The Trefoil Trek 5k race competitors took off at 9 a.m., following an opening ceremony with the Girl Scout Promise and Law and a welcome from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller. Participants in the 5k ranged in age from 2, riding in a stroller along the course, to 63. Everyone was awarded with a Cookie Classic medal at the finish line.

An hour later, the 1-mile Samoa Stroll participants assembled at the starting line. They were awarded with a patch at the end of the race.

Between the two races, Girl Scout alumnae served as judges to choose winners for the Best Spirit and Best Costume contests. Many Girl Scouts were dressed as their favorite cookies, while others were decked out in tutus and other fun outfits. Top race finishers for each age category were also recognized during the event.

Girl Scouts who participated in either race completed requirements towards earning a badge for their age level, including the My Best Self badge for Girl Scout Brownies and the Staying Fit badge for Girl Scout Juniors.

Proceeds from the Cookie Classic will help provide programs for Girl Scouts, learning opportunities and training for Girl Scout volunteers and financial assistance for girls who would otherwise not be able to participate in Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program will run through March 20. Cookie booth sales will begin on February 20, and cookie customers can visit to enter their zip code and find a list of scheduled cookie booths nearby. Find more information about the local Girl Scout Cookie Program here.

View more photos from the event here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Girl Scouts Cook Up Sweet Treats in the Kitchen

On Saturday, January 30, nearly 60 Girl Scouts learned their way around the kitchen during a culinary workshop at Stratford University in Newport News led by Chef Dedra Blount and Debra Brabson, owners of Now You’re Cooking Culinary Studio. During each of the two dessert-themed sessions, the kitchen was abuzz with energy as girls had cookies baking, chocolate melting and popcorn popping.

After watching a demonstration from Chef Dedra at the beginning of the workshop, the girls set out on their own to make cake pops. They crumbled a cake, added frosting and formed the mixture into balls that they placed in the freezer to set. Next, the girls made chocolate covered strawberries and learned how to follow a recipe to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. They also decorated a batch of popcorn with chocolate and sprinkles. Before the end of the class, the girls pulled their cake pops out of the freezer to dip them in chocolate and cover them in frosting. Before the day was over, the girls had the chance to taste test the sweets they had whipped up in the kitchen.

For Chef Dedra, culinary classes are about more than teaching girls how to cook. In her more than 15 years of experience as a culinary instructor, she has seen how hands-on experience in the kitchen helps people develop critical thinking skills and confidence. She recognizes how valuable this can be for young girls as they achieve their cooking goals and gain a sense of accomplishment.

The skills that the girls learned in the kitchen from Chef Dedra will count towards requirements for earning the cooking badge for their age level.

Now You’re Cooking Culinary Studio, led by Chef Dedra and Debra, will be participating in the upcoming Samoa Soiree, an adult-only tasting event where chefs use Girl Scout Cookies to create unique desserts and appetizers. Samoa Soiree will take place on March 5 at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk. Tickets are available online here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: My F.A.N. Club (Fitness and Nutrition)

Alexandra, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Yorktown, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Alexandra focused on this issue of childhood obesity and inactivity. She developed a 12-course fitness and nutrition program that she taught to children in the afterschool program at the Newport News Family YMCA. Through the lessons that she created, Alexandra taught the children about food labels, healthy snacks, healthy food substitutions and portion sizes. She also introduced the children to different types of exercises, including yoga, Zumba and interval training, as well as outdoor games to keep them active.

“Childhood obesity has been on the rise since the 1990s,” Alexandra said. “I wanted to provide younger children with a healthy start in life. I introduced them to good, healthy habits and fun options to exercise that they can share with family and friends.”

Alexandra put all of her lesson plans and activities into a program book that she donated to the Newport News Family YMCA so that they can continue to teach fitness and nutrition in the afterschool program.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Alexandra to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Meet Mariah, Cookie Entrepreneur Officer

Mariah receiving the awards she earned
last cookie season from Tracy Keller,
She may only be in the fifth grade, but that doesn’t stop Camden resident Mariah from holding the title of CEO—cookie entrepreneur officer. Mariah, who sold more than 1,500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies last year, was the top cookie seller in Camden and one of the top sellers in all of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, which covers northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. Mariah was recognized for this achievement last May at a luncheon hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast CEO Tracy Keller.

Thanks to the success that Mariah and her fellow members of Girl Scout Troop 5970 had last cookie season, the girls had a busy year. A highlight for Mariah was a visit to the Elizabeth City SPCA.

“We toured the building and walked the dogs,” Mariah said. “We also donated food, cleaning supplies and household items for them to use for the animals.”

Mariah also earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, the top award for Girl Scouts in elementary school and the third highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting, through her volunteer efforts at the SPCA.

This year, Mariah has set a goal to sell 2,000 boxes of cookies. She and her troop are hoping to raise enough funds to take a trip to an attraction in Williamsburg. When cookie season kicked off on January 9, Mariah began contacting last year’s cookie customers to see if they would like to buy cookies again. Throughout cookie season, she keeps selling and asks as many people as she can if they would like to buy cookies. She is persistent and committed to reaching her goal.

“I’m always kind and courteous to everyone that I meet,” Mariah said. “Even if they say no to cookies, I always say thank you and smile.”

As part of the nation’s leading financial literacy and entrepreneurial program for girls, Girl Scouts are learning skills that will last them a lifetime, including goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Girl Scouts in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia are currently taking orders for cookies. Cookie booths begin February 20 and run through March 20. For more information, visit

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Pantry Garden

Isabella, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Virginia Beach, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

Isabella noticed that the majority of local food pantries exclusively distribute nonperishable food items, causing people with food insecurity to not receive all the nutrients that are key to a healthy diet. For her project, Isabella built six raised garden beds at Church of the Ascension in order to provide a sustainable way for fresh vegetables to be distributed from the food pantry at the church. She also recruited a group of volunteers to help maintain the garden.

“I wanted to provide fresh, organically-grown produce as a supplement to provide additional nutrients for those seeking assistance,” Isabella said. “I also wanted to create a ministry where everyone could help out, including young families and teens.”

Each month, the food pantry at Church of the Ascension serves more than 1,000 clients. Through her project, Isabella harvested 400 pounds of food that was distributed during her garden’s first season. With the help of the garden volunteers, there are plans to expand the garden by building additional raised garden beds to yield more crops.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Isabella to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Meet Samoa Soiree Competitor: Chef Bob Hirasawa

Flavorful. Attractive. Creative. That’s how Chef Bob Hirasawa, executive chef of Farm Fresh Supermarkets, describes his cooking. With more than 44 years of culinary experience, he currently researches and develops recipes, supervises retail chefs and supports the catering operations for all 43 Farm Fresh locations.

Chef Bob and GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller
Chef Bob developed a love for creative cooking and unique flavor combinations at a young age. He grew up watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr on television and was fascinated by their skills and creativity. He was also frequently tasting new flavors and new foods at home.

“I was influenced by my mother’s interest in cooking different ethnic foods and her passion to learn more about them, trying the dishes on our family,” Chef Bob said.

His own culinary career started in the early 1970s when he took a job as a broiler cook in a Japanese restaurant. Over the years, he has worked in restaurants, hotels, country clubs and supermarkets around the country. Although he received formal culinary training at the City College of San Francisco, Chef Bob says that most of his skills have come from working with talented chefs throughout his career.

2015 Samoa Soiree Best Savory Dish
With so much experience, Chef Bob will putting his own creativity to the test as he enters a culinary challenge like no other this March—Samoa Soiree. Now in its eighth year, Samoa Soiree, which is hosted by Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, challenges local chefs to create dishes—sweet or savory—using Girl Scout Cookies as a key ingredient. Last year was Chef Bob’s first time at Samoa Soiree and he took home the prize for best savory dish for his golden lamb chops with Samoas mashed sweet potatoes. This year, he’ll be back to defend his title.

Chef Bob is no stranger to culinary competitions. He has been a part of numerous events across the region since joining the Farm Fresh team in 2007. He enjoys the friendly competition and the chance to meet and network with fellow chefs in the area. But, for Chef Bob, Samoa Soiree is about more than the food and the competition. It’s also about supporting the Girl Scouts. Both of his daughters spent years in the organization, making their way from Brownie to Cadette levels. His wife was also a Girl Scout Brownie leader for some time.

“Girl Scouts was a positive influence in my daughters’ lives,” Chef Bob said. “It helped them with their goal setting and self-confidence. Girl Scouts directs girls to wholesome, positive values.”

As to what Chef Bob will be cooking up for Samoa Soiree, that’s a secret until the big night. But, we do know his approach.

“I generally take the concept of a dish I like, and I will incorporate as many cookies into the ingredients as I can,” Chef Bob explained. “Then, I actually make the dish and see if it works.”

Guests can sample Chef Bob’s recipe, along with food from 10 other chefs, at the 8th annual Samoa Soiree on Saturday, March 5 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk. The evening will include great food, live music by the 504 Supreme swing band and a live auction. Tickets are $60 each until February 19, and then the price increases to $75 each. Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Proceeds from the event will support the Opportunity Fund, which provides financial assistance to girls whose families need help with Girl Scout membership, summer camp and program fees.

The event is being generously sponsored by Coastal Virginia Magazine, Farm Fresh Supermarkets, Greenbrier Dodge, Kaufman and Canoles, Little Brownie Bakers, The Miles Agency, The New 101.3, PRA Group, Tidewater Women Magazine, TowneBank, UBS, VEER Magazine, WVEC-TV 13 and Yelp.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Sew Cool

Elly, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Williamsburg, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Elly created a sewing club at Walsingham Academy to teach children a way to creatively engage their minds without spending time in front of a screen. She also wanted to teach children an important skills that they can use throughout their life.

Elly’s sewing club met twice a month at the school. Elly first taught the club members the basics of hand sewing and how to sew a button onto fabric. She then taught them how to use a sewing machine, and the club members made placemats, Christmas stockings, pillows, bags and other projects.

“I was incredibly impressed that the students became inspired to be creative not only during the club meetings, but also at home,” Elly said. “I began sending home needles, thread, buttons and scraps of fabric because the children loved sewing.”

At the end of the school year, each club member used their new skills to design a quilt square that Elly sewed together and presented to the school to hang on the wall to encourage children to engage in activities to stretch their creative thinking. Each club member was also given their own sewing kit to continue mastering their sewing skills at home.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry-out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Elly to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.
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