- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2003

Tiffany Donaldson doesn't knock on doors in her Northwest neighborhood to sell her Girl Scout cookies; she just pulls out her Rolodex and picks up the phone.
"Hi, this is Tiffany, and I'm calling to get your Girl Scout cookie order."
It's not a spiel. It's a cheerful and sincere greeting that has allowed Tiffany, a Senior Girl Scout, to travel the world, help the homeless and enrich her life.
Tiffany, 17, has been selling Girl Scout cookies for 12 years and has developed a loyal clientele who eagerly and hungrily await her call each January. She figures she has sold about 9,000 boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils and Tagalongs in her scouting career.
Tiffany is a member of Girl Scout Troop 2821 at Peoples Congregational Church in Northwest and knows what it takes to be a good entrepreneur: the personal touch.
"I'll start calling people at their offices this week, and then I will fax over the order sheets," she said. "This year, I intend to sell more cookies than I ever have. This is my final year in Girl Scouts, and I hope to sell over 1,000 boxes of cookies. I want to end my year with a bang."
And with an 11-day trip this summer to China, where she and her troop will tour Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai.
The Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital one of the largest in the United States, with 3,900 troops kicked off its annual three-month cookie sale last week. The sale, which funds troop activities and programs, will run through March 29.
Tiffany's mom, Winnie, is an adviser for Troop 2821, one of about 200 in the District. Mrs. Donaldson said her troop of 30 seniors plans a trip every two years. They visited Europe in 1999 and Africa in 2001. Now they've set their sights on Asia.
But China wasn't a first choice, Mrs. Donaldson said. The well-traveled scouts were considering a trip to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the nation's largest shopping mall, or a luxury cruise in the Caribbean. When someone suggested China, their curiosity was piqued, she said.
"I'm looking forward to traveling to China," said Tiffany, who recently received the Girl Scouts' highest honor: the Gold Award. "They have wonders like the Great Wall, and I've always been interested in the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an."
"That's why I have enjoyed selling cookies over the years. It's given me an opportunity to travel the world," said the teenager, a senior at St. John's College High School in Northwest.
Selling cookies for $3 a box is all about developing life skills, setting goals and having fun, said Charlene Meidlinger, assistant executive director of the local Girl Scout council.
"When you think that we start to talk to 6-year-olds about setting goals when they're Brownies and, yes, their goals may be minuscule, but it's starting a process. When they're Seniors, they're setting goals of going to China. We've got girls learning about goal-setting and making plans to fulfill those goals," Mrs. Meidlinger said.
"I consider life skills, learning teamwork, self reliance, responsibility, honesty and integrity. And one of the very, very important ones is self-esteem because, again, we start with young girls, and the courage and self-esteem they get to knock on doors or pick up the phone. Their whole self-image has to be a very big part of this entrepreneurship, which is selling Girl Scout cookies."
The goal for troops in the metropolitan area is to sell 4.3 million boxes of cookies. Last year, they sold a little more than 4.2 million. "That's a lot of Thin Mints," Mrs. Meidlinger said.
"For the last five years, the greater Washington area has consumed more cookies than any place else in the country," Mrs. Meidlinger said. "They know a good value when they see it, and they support good organizations."
Ryan Tabb, a 12th-grader at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Northwest, plans to sell cookies at school, where she has sold hundreds of boxes in the past three years. A week before she gets her order form, Ryan alerts the students so they can get their money ready, she said.
"People start asking me about the cookies in September," said Ryan, 17, a senior scout with Troop 2821. "They usually order between two and seven boxes of cookies. The favorites at Wilson are Thin Mints and Samoas. Those are the two that I always have to restock."

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