It is that time of year again — when residents can expect to hear a knock at their door and find a local Girl Scout standing on the front step with a smile and an order form.
Last Friday, Jan. 5 kicked off the annual 3-week Girl Scout cookie sales period — which means that, for the next few weeks, the 300 girls that make up the 30 local troops covering the Great Falls and McLean area will be traveling door to door selling such favorites as Samoas, Trefoils, Do-Si-Do's and Thin Mints.
A portion of the proceeds from cookie sales benefit local Girl Scout troops, but troop members are also encouraging residents to show their appreciation for U.S. troops by purchasing boxes that will be donated to the Neighbors International Foundation, LLC, a local non-profit organization that will include all donated Girl Scout cookie boxes in care packages sent to soldiers serving in the Middle East.
IN THE LAST three years, the Neighbors International Foundation has sent more than 3,900 care packages to military personnel serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has also forwarded more than 13,000 letters of support to both soldiers and sailors. Sharon Rainey, president and founder of the Neighbors International Foundation, said that she often receives thank you letters that make specific mention of the extremely popular Girl Scout cookies. In December, National Guard Lt. Col. Stan Gabaldon visited the Neighbors offices in Great Falls to thank Rainey for all of the care packages he and his unit had received during his year-long assignment. Gabaldon confirmed that the Girl Scout cookies are one of the most sought after care package items.
"The cookies were very, very popular," said Gabaldon, who distributed the contents of the packages among the troops. "Definitely keep sending the cookies — they really love them."
Last week, Great Falls resident Ann Kendrall purchased several boxes of Girl Scout cookies from Natalie Gilbert, a member of local Girl Scout Troop 2659. As a former Girl Scout herself Kendrall has been a long time supporter of the Girl Scout cookie sales, but said it is particularly gratifying to also be able to donate her purchases to U.S. troops overseas.
"I love giving them to our troops, not only because I think it's important to support our soldiers, but because it also takes the temptation out of the house," said Kendrall.
THE GIRL SCOUT cookie sales are an integral part of the Girl Scout program as they promote core Girl Scout values, while also raising much needed money for Girl Scout activities.
"Only Girl Scouts can sell cookies, and they are prohibited from using the Internet to do it," said Pam Gilbert, Great Falls resident and mother of Natalie Gilbert. "It's really important that the girls lead the way on this — it's all about girl leadership, ownership, responsibility, character and accountability."
Emily Nesbitt, 10, is a member of Troop 2659. She has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, and says that selling the cookies can be difficult, but she enjoys all of the opportunities that come with being a Girl Scout.
"We get to go to a bunch of really fun places," said Nesbitt.
Carin Gendell, manager of the Girl Scout Service Unit 50-2 which includes the 30 troops that cover Great Falls, said that the Girl Scout cookie sales are "one of the most important ways for all Girl Scouts to earn money to take trips and run their troop activities." Gendell noted that many people do not realize that Girl Scouts of all ages must sell the cookies. She was disappointed last year when members of her Senior Troop — which consists of juniors from Langley High School and other local high schools — were teased while selling cookies in the Great Falls Village Center.
"These are girls who are working on their Gold Award, the equivalent of Eagle Scouts, and they need to earn money to support these activities," said Gendell. "The teen girls need to earn money from cookies even more than the younger girls because they are eligible for Council-sponsored trips and activities."