Forget thin, the Mints are here

It’s Girl Scout cookie time in Blount County

“When will the Girl Scout cookies be here?”

That’s the big question around this time of year. It seems like everyone knows it’s Girl Scout cookie time even before they’ve seen a single scout or cookie booth.

Girl Scout cookie pre-sales ended on Feb. 4 and, for those lucky enough to have ordered early, deliveries will begin on Feb. 29. But if you weren’t one of the first to place your order, don’t worry. You can still get your cookies on Feb. 29 because that’s the day Girl Scouts begin setting up cookie booths all over the county.

Cookie prices remain the same as last year at $3.50 per box. This year’s selection includes the old stand-bys of Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, All Abouts and Trefoils. There are also two new choices, Sugar Free Chocolate Chip and Lemon Chalet Cremes.

Jennifer Wilson, cookie mom for Girl Scout Troop 817, said she’s had a fairly easy time of it so far this year because the tracking system is online which eliminates a lot of paperwork and time.

“I just had to organize the training meeting and get all the forms back. Then I just plug in all the numbers, and it tells me how much to order. I can track incentives, orders, money, everything,” Wilson said.

Cookie sales are a major fundraiser for troops. Each troop receives between 50 and 65 cents of every box sold depending on the total number of cases sold. The more cases sold, the more money stays with the troop. Generally the money is then used for troop activities and service projects. According to the Girl Scouts of Tanasi Council Troop Guide, area scouts sold 751,572 boxes of cookies in 2007 and 94 percent of the eligible troops participated.

Cookie sales are more than just a fundraiser. They are also a way for troops to serve their community. In 2007, local troops donated 8,032 boxes of cookies to local charities through the Gift of Caring Community Service Project. Each troop chooses a local charity or organization they’d like to support. Then during the sale, the scouts ask customers if they’d like to buy additional boxes of cookies to be donated to the chosen charity.

“This is also good for people who don’t want the cookies but want to support the Scout troop,” said Molly Bate, leader of Girl Scout Troop 74. “This year our troop is giving to Haven House. The girls were very positive and excited about it. Last year we sent cookies to a troop in Iraq.”

In addition to contributing to their troops and their community, the girls have an opportunity to earn badges and receive other incentives for their hard work. They also benefit from the process of selling Girl Scout cookies as they learn about teamwork, setting goals and managing money.

There’s no doubt everyone involved in Girl Scouts during cookie time stays busy. “The biggest thing I’ve spent time on is data entry,” Wilson said. “The only thing I’m stressed about is the money and getting it in the bank on time and getting it right. We’ve got over 200 cases on just pre orders.”

Despite the work involved, it wouldn’t be February in Blount County without Girl Scout cookies. Be sure to stock up because all the cookies freeze well, especially the Thin Mints, and don’t wait too long to buy your cookies. The sale ends on March 19.

Lynn Stout, former cookie mom, has two Girl Scouts selling cookies this year.

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