- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - It’s that time of year again when girls with green sashes go door-to-door to sell cookies, but this year is different.

This year the Girl Scouts are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the cookie sale. Local troops began their pre-sale on Jan. 13, with kick-offs all over the state.

“I think this anniversary is a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the girls. They get to not only set goals and do the fun things, they get to help with community service projects,” said Amanda Gaughan, leader for Troop 51133 in West Milford.

Everything the girls do this year will be emphasized a little more because of the celebration, she said. To start off the beginning of pre-sales, Gaughan’s troop celebrated a little early.

“We just had a cookie celebration on (Jan. 10) where we let the girls taste the cookies. We have a lot of first-time sellers this year,” she said. “We showed them the different prizes they could earn, talked about setting their goals, and what they want to do with their money.”

Seneca Gaughan, 10, is now a Junior after being in Girl Scouts for five years and is part of the Media On Demand ,or MOD, Squad.

“I’m super excited about the anniversary, it just comes to show how many girls have taken part in this program,” she said. “This year we have the S’mores cookie to celebrate it with too.”

Suzanne Goralczyk, chief marketing officer for the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond, said they are excited about celebrating the anniversary for the sale of cookies. They have introduced the Girl Scout S’mores this year in honor of the anniversary.

“It’s kind of cool because the first S’mores recipe was published in 1925 and was published by the Girl Scouts,” she said. “I think it’s because when you think of Girl Scouts, you kind of think of S’mores.”

Since 1917, Girl Scouts has been the largest entrepreneurial program for girls, Goralczyk said.

“Going back to 1917, girls have been using the program to gain five different life skills: Decision making, goal setting, financial management, business ethics, and just plain people skills,” she said. “Girls learn they are responsible for their fellow Girl Scouts to show up to sell the cookies, and that translates into being responsible for their fellow coworkers one day.”

Girl Scouts is more than just buying a box of cookies, when people buy the cookies. They are helping girls gain an opportunity or experience they wouldn’t have otherwise, Goralczyk said.

“They do a lot of community service, too. Some of the cookie funds go to the community service projects, and some go toward the girls having fun,” she said.

Cara Noonan, Troop 5344 leader in Bridgeport, said every year when the cookie sales come around, she works hard to let the girls know this is their business.

“They learn how to run a business, market, and handle customer service. It’s important for them to learn business skills,” she said. “Cookie selling is our business.”

The girls are able to establish a goal for what they want to do with the money they raise, Noonan said. They brainstorm for two separate items - one fun reward for the girls and one community service project.

“When you buy a box of cookies, it’s helping that scout and that troop achieve their goals - whatever that is,” she said. “Girl Scouts is a great organization to get girls together, learn different skills. My job is to promote these girls to become girls of courage, confidence, and character just like the mission statement says.”

Noonan enjoys helping the girls becoming women and, hopefully, leaders in their communities down the road. By selling cookies, the girls earn more than prizes; they learn life skills, lessons, and make friends.

Cookies are on pre-sale through all troops and scouts in the area. Those interested in purchasing cookies can order with a local troop now or buy them at the beginning of March by finding a sale at www.cookielocator.littlebrownie.com.

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Information from: The Exponent Telegram, https://www.theet.com

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