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Modified for coronavirus pandemic, Girl Scout cookie time arrives in Howard County | Clarksville

Despite the challenging times, community organizations are finding new ways to carry on seasonal traditions. Local Girl Scout troops have continued their activities during the coronavirus pandemic. Scouts, from kindergartners to high school seniors, have learned how to hold troop meetings online, earn badges, stage virtual campfires and even bridge to the next Scouting level.

Girls in Service Unit 653, which serves Clarksville and surrounding areas, have participated in service projects from afar. For Operation Gratitude, the Scouts are writing letters and creating drawings to thank those serving Howard Country and our communities.

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Scouts are currently adapting the quintessential Girl Scout activity — selling Girl Scout cookies — amid new rounds of restrictions and recommendations. As the leader of a troop of Girl Scouts Cadettes, I have admired how the sixth graders have pivoted to accepting orders online.

According to the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland website, the cookie program is about more than sweet treats. Girls learn life-long skills such as goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

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The most noticeable change this cookie season is the absence of cookie booths. Area residents would typically see Scouts outside of local businesses from late October through mid-December selling boxes of cookies. Due to COVID-19, booth sales have been postponed indefinitely.

“Cookie sales are obviously an important way for girls to learn and practice business and financial management,” said Didi Cross, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland Service Unit 653 manager. “However, it is also an important way for girls to engage with their community.”

Although cookies may be more difficult to find this year, in-person and direct deliveries are ongoing through mid-December.

“Cookies are sold by individual girls and troops,” Cross said. “If you know a Girl Scout, she will be able to sell you cookies in the traditional way or online with either direct shipping or in-person delivery.”

Taking young children to visit Santa Claus is a cherished holiday tradition that could look different this year. Instead of going to see Santa, the jolly elf may come to you. Santa and a parade of elves will drive down Great Star Drive and surrounding streets from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Dec. 5. Residents are invited to wave to Mr. Claus from the sidewalks or front lawns.

The custom of writing letters to Santa will not be a casualty of 2020 in Clarksville. A special mailbox for letters headed to the North Pole will be placed outside of Claret Hall in the River Hill Village Center. The mailbox will be accessible through Dec. 3, Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A local nonprofit is offering to bring Santa to your neighborhood for a small fee. Blossoms of Hope is sponsoring The Santa Project, an opportunity for a visit with Kris Kringle outside of your home on weekends and Wednesdays in December. Those who request a visit will get the chance to chat and take a picture with Saint Nick while social distancing.

The $25 donation for a visit helps Blossoms of Hope to plant cherry blossom trees in Howard County and surrounding areas. The organization also helps to support other local organizations, such as the Ellicott City Partnership and cancer resource centers. Learn more at blossomsofhope.org.

American Education Week, which is celebrated this year from Nov. 16 to 20, is taking on a new look as well. During this annual celebration of public education, families are typically invited into schools to observe and participate in activities. This year, many schools, such as Clarksville Middle School and River Hill High School, are encouraging students to bring a family member to class with them virtually. At Pointers Run Elementary School, it is also recognizing National Career Development week with daily themes such as "Dress for Success.”

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