- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - Grace Hoening sold 800 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies last year, but that will look like a drop in the bucket if the Rockford 12-year-old has her way.

“My goal is 2,500,” Hoening said.

That’s because any scout who hits that magic number wins a free trip to Disney World. And while more than tripling her best year of cookie sales might seem overly optimistic, Hoening thinks she has a new ace in the hole - online cookie sales.

“I think it’ll help,” Grace said. “If you have a family member who lives far away, they can order online.”

The digital sales initiative allows Girl Scouts to sell the iconic cookies online for the first time. Scouts will have custom websites with their own URL they can share with family and friends. Girls 12 and younger work with parents to build their websites, while girls 13 and older build their sites themselves with parental permission.

The online sales method allows an aunt who lives three states away to order cookies directly from her niece. And family members can share the scout’s custom URL to help boost sales.

Hoening may be focused on the Disney World prize, but Girl Scout leaders and parents are looking toward the new skills the girls will learn.

The digital sales program teaches Girl Scouts social media and online marketing skills in addition to goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics employed in the traditional cookie sales program.

“The world we live in is changing. Technology is changing,” said Ann-Marie Soderstrom, communications manager for Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois. “It used to be that you could go door to door any time of the day and someone would be home. Now girls have the opportunity to go door to door to sell their cookies and a chance to go online and learn digital skills.”

Kelly Miller of Rock City, whose 11-year-old daughter Harley ?has been selling cookies for five years, said she’s seen her daughter benefit from the lessons the program instills.

“She has become much more independent in terms of learning to approach people,” Kelly said. “She has become much more responsible. She only takes out a certain amount of money and takes care of it herself.”

Learning how to talk to people face to face might have been one of the more challenging parts of the cookie sales program for many girls. While that will still be part of the sales program, the digital aspect of online sales should be right in the comfort zone of many youths these days.

“For her, it’s much easier,” Kelly said of her daughter. “That’s the way she communicates with everybody anyway.”

No worries if you don’t know a Girl Scout or their family and still want to order cookies online. Customers can go to girlscoutcookies.org and use the cookie finder search tool. Enter your address and the Girl Scout closest to you gets credit for the sale.

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Source: Rockford Register Star, https://bit.ly/1CX5IoC

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, https://www.rrstar.com


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