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A St. Louis, Missouri, mother said the Girl Scouts organization threatened her with legal action after her troop sold bracelets to help Palestinian children.

Nawal Abuhamdeh said her daughter’s troop decided to make bracelets and donate the money rather than participate in the annual cookie sale. Abuhamdeh, who is Palestinian, has led her troop’s cookie fundraising event since 2019. But because of the Israel-Hamas war, she said the troop did not have the “energy to be able to sell cookies to a community, especially in a time of crisis.”

“We were debating whether we had the energy to put into a cookie season as we were grieving,” she said in a phone interview. “And not only that but also our community was grieving.”

Courtesy of Nawal Abuhamdeh

The eight-member troop, which includes girls from Indian, Pakistani, Somalin, Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian backgrounds, led the project, Abuhamdeh said. They held meetings about what material to use and where beads should be placed.

The girls decided to sell beaded bracelets for $5 and clay designs for $10 and donate the money to Palestine Children Relief Fund.

The troop set up a pre-order form to gauge interest from the community. After receiving more than 100 pre-orders, the troop posted about the bracelets on social media.

Almost immediately, Abuhamdeh said she received an email from Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri telling her to remove anything that associated Girl Scouts with the bracelets.

Girl scout troop making bracelets to support humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Courtesy of Nawal Abuhamdeh

“It felt very cold and just full of reprimand and demand,” Abuhamdeh said. “Demanding that I remove Girl Scout’s logo … disassociate ourselves from the organization and just continue this on our own personal time, deeming it as political and partisan, claiming that they have to be inclusive to all members and that they should be neutral on all sides.”

Abuhamdeh said she sent an email back explaining why the girls wanted to do the fundraiser and asked how it was different from Girl Scout fundraisers for Ukraine. The organization responded by threatening to take legal action, Abuhamdeh said.

Their email had “a lot of legal terms, a lot about policies and how I violated the policies of the Girl Scout handbook. The last sentence on that email really scared me, it said that if I didn’t take the actions they would pursue legal action.”

Girl Scouts of the USA denied threatening legal action.

A spokesperson for Girl Scouts of the USA said that its policies state that Girl Scouts and volunteers are not allowed to fundraise “for purposes other than Girl Scouting.”

Fundraising restrictions are lifted in rare cases, which included a brief period in late 2023 and early 2024 that allowed fundraisers related to the Israel-Hamas war, the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Girl Scouts of the USA and our local Girl Scout Councils build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place, and we encourage all members to stand up for the issues important to them,” the spokesperson said. “Additionally, girls can always decide as a troop to use their cookie proceeds and donate them to charities of their choice that appear on Charity Navigator.”

Abuhamdeh said she was disappointed in the Girl Scouts’ response to the troop’s bracelet fundraiser, and that after meeting with the other parents, the troop decided to disband.

“It triggered emotions I felt growing up. Anytime I would express myself or tell people proudly that I was a Palestinian, I would often be met with words of, like, ‘That’s threatening.’ I would be confused growing up,” she said. “That, I think, was what I was feeling. Just disappointment … and I was really sad.”



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