Community goes cookie crazy ... yet again

Many businesswomen leading successful careers in their lives today can attribute their start to skills they acquired years ago, selling irresistible Girl Scout cookies that Americans have grown to love. In the weeks to come, a new generation of Girl Scouts will have that chance as they take orders for their biggest and most successful fundraiser of the year.

“It’s one of the busiest times of the year for us,” said Annmarie Conroe, leader for several local Girl Scout troops, including Junior Troop 1015, Cadette Troop 1398 and Senior Troop 1030 — all part of the Chesapeake Bay Girl Scout Council (CBGSC).

Conroe has been actively involved with Girl Scouts ever since her daughter Heather began in Brownies in 1990. Although Girl Scouts of all ages participate, it is the younger ladies who come out on top where the cookies are concerned.

“It’s become quite a tradition,” said Conroe of the annual cookie sales. “It’s a very exciting time for the younger girls. People are more likely to buy a box [of cookies] from the younger girls out there. [The girls] are getting to know the project, and it’s one of the first big fundraisers that most of them participate in.”

With plenty to keep her busy, Conroe said she turns for assistance to parent Jennifer Pavik, who is helping to organize the cookie sales this year.

“It’s quite an experience,” said Pavik. “There’s only a limited amount of time, a couple weeks that the girls have. Sometimes, it’s hard to motivate them in cold weather, but they always do a real good job.”

Pavik has been an active volunteer with Girl Scouts since her daughter Jackie started four years ago. Jackie is now a member of Junior Troop 1015.

Healthy cookies for healthy attitudes

Each year, the Girl Scout cookie sales adopt an overall theme. This time, a motivational outlook is embraced as Girl Scouts across the country are urged to “STEP It Up.”

“This year’s theme,” said Conroe “stands for Success Through Energetic Participation. We want the girls moving and active.”

At the same time, there is a healthier side to this year’s sale, too. “All of the cookies we are selling this year have zero trans fat,” she added.

“A lot of people have become very diet conscious,” said Pavik. “I think the people who make the cookies are becoming aware that diets are changing. With New Year’s resolutions and people trying to get healthy, fat-free cookies can really appeal to that.”

Many people will be happy to see familiar cookies returning to the list this year, as well as the debut of the new, sugar-free Little Brownies, a bite-size treat, stuffed with chocolate chips. “The new brownies are diabetic friendly,” said Pavik. “The cookies really appeal to everyone this year.”

Returning favorites

The brownies replace the lemon coolers from last year, but most of the classic cookies, such as the traditional Trefoils and ever-popular Tagalongs, will be available, once again.

“People buy cookies each year because they really like them,” said Pavik. “Everyone has a favorite.” Some of the top-selling preferences include the peanut-buttery Do-si-Dos, the coconut, caramel, chocolate Samoas, and the deliciously simple Thin Mints, which Pavik admitted are her top choice.

At $3.50 per box, the cookies seem almost too good to pass up. Plus, the cookie sales program helps to fund the CBGSC budget, which aids the girls and the community.

While the cookie program is the main source of revenue for the Girl Scouts, much is used for program scholarships, funding volunteers and backing year-round support of facilities such as service centers, educational camps and program equipment.

Troops helping Troops

The Girls Scouts also participate in what’s known as Operation: Taste of Home, a project that began nearly four years ago.

People are able to purchase or “sponsor” boxes of Girl Scout cookies that are sent to men and women of the armed forces stationed overseas. The CBGSC works with USO at the Dover Air Force Base, which distributes the cookies to soldiers across the globe. Since its start in 2003, more than 70,000 boxes have been donated to the USO for U.S. armed forces.

“It’s a great way to help support the troops,” said Pavik. “And the girls get the opportunity to do something really special, too.”

The Girl Scout cookie sales also provide young women with one of their first experiences in leadership and business. “The girls stay very active with community service,” said Conroe.

“They do a lot with the VFW, Christmas parades and Lord Baltimore Elementary,” added Pavik. “It’s really a wonderful experience for everybody.”

The cookie sale began Saturday, Jan. 6, and will continue roughly through Jan. 22, noted Pavik. For more information about the sale or to place an order, visit www.cbgsc.org or call 1-800-YUM-YUM-2 (800-986-9862).

“There are a number of troops in the area,” said Pavik of the widespread opportunity to meet a Girl Scout and buy some cookies.

Junior Troop 1015 will also hold their Cookie Booth outside Hocker’s on Saturday, Feb. 10, for anyone who missed their chance or would like to purchase more. And other local troops will be participating in Cookie Booth sales in the weeks to come.