Girl Scouts will begin their annual door-to-door cookie sale Saturday and will offer traditional favorites in addition to a new sugar-free cookie similar to a brownie.
Customers can expect delivery as early as Feb. 21, and cookie booths will begin in front of area businesses Feb. 23 and 24. Cookies are $3.50 per box, and flavors are Thin Mints, Samoas, Do-si dos, Trefoils, Tagalongs, Caf Cookies, All Abouts and Lil' Brownies.
This marks the 12th year the girls in Troop 747 have sold cookies to help generate income for their group and for area Girl Scout programs, leader Elaine Lea said.
"I've had these girls since the first grade," Lea said.
In the early years, the girls learned basic skills such as making change and reacting gracefully whether they received a yes or a no. As they grew older, their salesmanship grew more polished as they gained confidence and poise, she said.
Now they are able to explain what the Girl Scouts are all about and "sell the movement," Lea said.
Her daughter, high school senior Hannah Lea, has sold cookies all 12 years and remembers what it was like at first.
"As a young person, it seems terrifying to approach a total stranger and talk to that person. Cookie sales helped us come out of our shells and put a smile on our faces," she said. "We also learned how to manage money and to be organized."
Money from cookie sales helps fund activities such as the trip to Switzerland the troop took last summer. The girls saved for two years and attended The Girl Scout World Center for 12 days.
"The trip would not have been possible without cookie sales," Hannah said.
In addition to trips and activities, the girls can, starting in the seventh grade, begin banking credit from cookie sales into a "Cookie Bucks" scholarship fund. Girls from Troop 747 have earned as much as $1,000 in scholarship money for college next year. More than $75,000 in Cookie Bucks scholarships have been given in the Augusta area since the inception of the program 18 years ago, according to Judith Goodwin, the director of fund development and communications.
Although cookie sales provide revenue for Girl Scout programs, the primary reason for the annual event is to help girls develop life skills and realize their potential, Goodwin said.
"We do this to teach the girls things such as goal setting and following through on a promise," she said.
Many successful women were Girl Scouts, including Columbia County lawyer Sue Reimer. Selling cookies enabled Reimer to polish the skills that have helped her succeed in her profession.
"If I had never sold Girl Scout cookies, I would never have been able to argue a case in court," Reimer said.
The tradition of selling Girl Scout cookies can be traced to 1917, five years after the Girl Scouts began under the direction of Juliette Gordon Low.
Nationally, the most popular Girl Scout cookies are Thin Mints, which account for one-quarter of all their cookies sold, according to the Girl Scout Web site.
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