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First Girl Scout troop for homeless girls welcomes 21 members

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NEW YORK — The Girl Scouts of America welcomed their first troop for homeless girls in New York City.

A group of 21 girls, ages 5 to 14, are part of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York's newly created Troop 6000. It's comprised entirely of young girls who are living in the city's shelter system.

"You are in four walls all day," said Giselle Burgess, a mom of five. "You are trapped and helpless, looking at your kids."

Burgess has a job and was living in an apartment Flushing, Queens, until the building she rented from was sold to make way for high-end condos. Unable to find an apartment she could afford, Burgess was forced to move with her five daughters into a city shelter.

While there, Burgess would take her daughters to volunteer. That's where she met Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who came up with the idea to start a troop for young girls living in shelters.

Van Bramer teamed up with the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, which helped pay for uniforms for the girls.

"They are learning leadership skills and gaining self-esteem," Van Bramer said.

The troop launched in February and already the girls are achieving new badges and pins weekly while running meetings at the shelter.

"We do math and painting and stuff," one girl said.

Another girl told PIX11 News they earned badges for first aid kits.

The troop was created at a time when the city revealed that 40 percent of the 60,000 people in city shelters are children.

On Tuesday, the troop was honored by the City Council, which hopes to one day see the young girls sitting as councilmembers themselves.

"When I was younger, I didn't think I would change the world," Karina said. "But now I have more power and my small voice is changing things."

Van Bramer hopes that this program will branch out to other shelters across New York City.

Anyone interested in donating to the group can visit the Girl Scouts website and choose "Girl Scouts in NYC Shelters" as the designation.