Maija Kaprosy and her dad, Jay Kaprosy

Maija Kaprosy and her dad, Jay Kaprosy, combined their skills to build a Girl Scout cookie castle, which is on display at The Shops at Norterra starting Feb. 7.

Phoenix Girl Scout Maija Kaprosy received a quick lesson in architecture and business when she and her father, Jay, built a 13-foot-by-13-foot-by-9-foot castle made mostly out of Girl Scout cookie boxes. 

This was the focal point to the Cactus-Pine Council’s cookie-selling space at The Shops at Norterra, 2450 W. Happy Valley Road, Phoenix, starting Feb. 7. Cookies will be available every Sunday in February at Norterra, which donated the space. 

“First, I was a little confused by the idea. I never heard of it before,” said 12-year-old Maija.

Quickly, however, Maija was into it.

“My first few ideas were just a house,” she said. “We thought that was too generic. We looked at landmarks in Arizona. Then, we thought, little girls like to be princesses, so I started on a castle. I got some emotional support and ideas from my friends, I should add.”

The annual cookies sale is a major fundraiser for Girl Scouts in Arizona, supporting opportunities for girls to learn, grow and enjoy new experiences. The Cactus-Pine Council’s goal is to sell 2.1 million packages of cookies this year.

Homie, a real estate brokerage, donated $15,000 to support cookie sales, foster creativity, engineering and entrepreneurial skills among Girl Scouts through its philanthropic arm, Homie Helps. 

“At Homie, we applaud innovation and embrace making smart, creative changes, which is why we wanted to support and encourage the Girl Scouts-Cactus Pine Council’s cookie-selling efforts this year,” said Joshua Miller, Homie Arizona’s general manager. 

“When we learned they were forced to shift gears we wanted to support the fundraising efforts and life skills by aiding in the building of the cookie castle.”

Arizona Cactus-Pine Council CEO Tamara Woodbury said the pandemic forced her organization to consider new options for selling cookies this year.

“When Homie stepped in to help promote a new cookie booth location, they provided a unique way to showcase what Girl Scouting is all about — perseverance, creativity, entrepreneurial and teamwork skills,” Woodbury said. 

“We are excited to debut the cookie castle and hope the community is as impressed and amazed by it as we are.”

Homie has been working with the Girl Scouts in a lesser capacity, Miller said. The two organizations reconnected and brainstormed on how they could partner. 

“We thought it would be interesting for the community to create a cookie castle,” Miller said. “It’s been really great to see the enthusiasm with the girls and see that we can contribute to their cause as well.

“COVID affected people, but different organizations as well. The Girl Scouts had been struggling with how they’re going to distribute their cookies this year with the state of the climate right now. We jumped at the opportunity to help.”

Miller said Homie wants to empower the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.

“We’ve been in discussions to have this potentially be an annual event, where multiple Girl Scout troops will build a house,” he said. “We’re exploring it now and will be looking at ways to partner with the organization in the future. It’s not a complex partnership. We just had this girl (Maija) who was so excited, and we thought it would be great to do that.”

Maija is looking forward to Feb. 7, as it’s been a labor of love.

“We’ve been up there building, even at night,” said Maija, who has been a Girl Scout for three and a half years. “Someone was walking by every few minutes looking at the castle.

“I love cookie selling. You get to learn about money management and time management and learn about the community from going door to door. I’ve been learning new things by being with other girls my age. We do fun things, too, like volunteering with charities.”

Her dad Jay, mom Elli, and the brother, Bremer, are impressed with her handiwork. Jay helped her with the castle, as did Kaia Maroney, the daughter of Jim and Andrea Maroney. 

“It’s been incredible,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young women like her. It’s something to look forward to and keep busy with during the pandemic.

“She always impresses. She jumped at the opportunity with very little hesitation. She’s fearless that way. She loves to do things that are creative. She came up with different versions of the castle and was thinking it all through. She has this slideshow of what she was putting together with the different boxes. It was interesting and a lot of fun to watch her walk through the design and the logistics.”