By GRACE GADDY
Girl Scouts wearing bright shirts and even brighter smiles lined up rows of colorful cookie boxes by Brookshire's Grocery Store on Thursday. In addition to smiling, the girls were there for their annual Cookie Program, which raises funds for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas (GSNETX ) organization.
Booth sales kicked off across the state Thursday and will run through Feb. 17.
New this year, the Girl Scouts will have cookies in hand, allowing them to sell, deliver and collect money in one easy step.
Two of the girls from Troop 1417, Jackelyn Hutcherson and Ryley Smart, were top sellers last year, raising a combined total of more than $4,000. Hutcherson, who raised $2,500, said her goal was to double that number this year.
“This year, my goal is $5,500,” Hutcherson said, beaming.
Funds raised from cookie sales will go to support local branches of the organization through educational field trips, leadership activities and service projects. In 2013, GSNETX sold 3.6 million boxes of cookies.
Cookie boxes sell for $4 and include the following flavors: Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Dulce de Leche, Thank U Berry Munch, and Savannah Smiles.
According to the GSNETX organization, selling cookies is more than a tradition; the fundraiser is an integral part of Girl Scouts’ business and economic literacy initiative for girls in kindergarten through 12th grade. The program helps Girl Scouts develop five key skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.
Colleen Walker, chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, said that in addition to this, the program has been proven to boost girls' self esteem.
“The Girl Scout Cookie Program supplies girls with important leadership skills that will provide a lifelong foundation for success,” Walker said. “The largest financial literacy program in the world encourages girls to dream big and plan a professional career path based on what they’ve learned.
“Whether it’s a bank, high-tech company, hospital, or even the local pet store, employers want someone who can set goals, meet deadlines and sell ideas, and they also want someone who is honest, trustworthy and reliable.”
Through the Cookie Program, Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to earn the new Mary Kay Entrepreneurship patch, designed to inspire the next generation of female leaders.
The Girl Scouts will also continue to donate cookies to military personnel through Project Troop to Troop, which encourages members of the community to buy Girl Scout cookies for donation to the U.S. Armed Forces.
The donated cookies are then transported to service men and women at home and abroad, to local veterans’ organizations and to wounded soldiers through Fort Hood, United Service Organizations (USO) and American Red Cross.
Customers can make a $10 donation towards purchasing cookies for military personnel by texting the word “GREEN” to 80888. Last year nearly 178,000 packages of Girl Scout cookies were donated to Project Troop to Troop in Northeast Texas.
Customers can find nearby cookie booths by downloading the Cookie Locator app. The app is available for iPhone and Android by searching GS COOKIES in the phone’s app store. Customers can search for sales by zip code.
Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas serves more than 33,000 girls and 17,000 adults in 32 northeast Texas counties. For information on how to join, volunteer, donate or reconnect to the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, call (800) 442-2260 or visit www.gsnetx.org.
For more information about the Cookie Program visit: www.texascookietime.com.