Girl Scout Cookie Sales 2014

22 Feb

GSCTXcookiesales    Troop 887 leader Nichol Lee and her 10-year-old daughter, Grace, will sell Girl Scout cookies faithfully at the front doors of several Oak Hill commercial businesses seven days a week for 37 days throughout January and February.

The Lees join nearly 80 other troops in the Oak Hill unit of the Girl Scouts of Central Texas (GSCTX) council who are selling cookies in front of local businesses like Randall’s, Torchy’s Tacos, Starbucks, Subway, and Walgreens.

The Girl Scouts sell whatever cookies they have on hand for immediate consumption from 3:30 until 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends, come rain or shine. And they’ll sell cookies by cash, check, credit or debit card.

“I do it for the girls,” Lee said. “I was not a Girl Scout in the small town in Illinois where I grew up because Maroa didn’t have a troop; I was in 4-H, but I love Girl Scouts.”

For every box of cookies the girls sell, the GSCTX receives $3.60 and each troop earns .40 cents. Troop 887 plans to use the money raised from selling cookies to create support kits for children with cancer at Dell’s Children’s Hospital, Nichol Lee said. The kits will also help them earn their Bronze Awards in Girl Scouts.

“Even if you don’t want any cookies, you can help us support kids who have cancer,” said Grace Lee.

Troop 887 member Sydney Dean, 10, pitched her own sales agenda.

“The money goes to kids who have cancer and you can help us support them,” Dean said.

Both Grace Lee and Dean hope to support Dell’s Children’s Hospital patients by making knit caps out of T-shirt material for kids who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy treatments. They plan to give the caps to pre-teen child cancer patients along with a special support kit complete with books, crayons, pencils, note pads, and Rainbow Loom kits. For younger patients, they would like to give the caps along with My Little Pony color books, action figures, and Matchbox Cars, they said.

“But before they can start that project to earn their Bronze Awards, they have to go on a journey to learn how to save energy in Austin,” Nichol Lee said.

At Kiker Elementary, the girls also hope to spend a couple of weeks teaching their peers the importance of turning off the lights at home when rooms are not in use.

In Oak Hill alone, 80 Girl Scout troops including 622 girls sold 68,939 boxes of cookies last year.  This year, the neighborhood troops ordered 49,968 boxes, said product program manager Sierra Fernandes of GSCTX, which stretches from Stephenville to San Marcos.

Girl Scouts from six local elementaries including: Kiker, Mills, Baldwin, Clayton, Oak Hill and Patton, along with Gorzycki and Small middle schools, and James Bowie High School will sell cookies until they are all gone.

For as long as they last, six types of cookies will be offered in Oak Hill, including: the overall universal favorite Thin Mints, as well as Tagalongs, Samoas, Do-si-dos, Trefoils and the new Savannah Smiles specialties. However, some may find the new cookie names confusing.

Four types of Girl Scout’s cookies share two names because different bakers – Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers — produce them. Regardless of the names, the cookies look similar and taste familiar. While each box of Girl Scout cookies cost $4, not all cookies are equal, when it comes to calories.

The nationwide favorite, vegan Thin Mints have only one name and still remain coated in a layer of rich chocolaty confection; four cookies serve up 160 calories.

The Samoas represent the second most popular Girl Scout cookie camouflaged in a chewy slathering of caramel stripes on top of toasted coconut, also known as Carmel deLites.  However, just two Samoas amount to 150 calories. Two Tagalongs, or Peanut Butter Patties offer 130 calories with a layer of peanut butter hiding inside a chocolate-like shell.  The Shortbread cookies are also known as Trefoils; five cookies equal 160 calories per serving. Do-si-dos are also called Peanut Butter Sandwich; three cookies serve up 160 calories.

This year’s newest offering, Savannah Smiles, sell by only one name; five of the lemon cookies dusted in powdered sugar hold just 120 calories. The tart treat celebrates more than 100 years of Girl Scouts and the city where Juliette Gordon Low founded the Georgia organization in 1912. Last year, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Low the Presidential Medal of Freedom to recognize her contributions to private and public civic service.

Service represents the foundation of the Girl Scouts organization, said Lois Garcia-Baab, director of marketing and communications for GSCTX.

“We’ve always been about service,” Garcia-Baab said. “For everything we do in Girl Scouts, service is a part of it.”

Patrons may donate to the Girl Scouts of Central Texas Council by buying a seventh box or “virtual cookies,” sold as part of the national program, “Operation Cookie,” Garcia-Baab said. For every box of virtual cookies sold, the Girl Scout council will drop ship any variety to United States military personnel stationed around the world, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other American military bases served include Kuwait, Africa and Honduras.

This year, when customers buy those virtual boxes, the cookies will be sent to soldiers overseas and GSCTX will cooperate with the F7 Group, a women’s veteran organization that provides care packages to female military members and their families. However, the F7 Group is not the sole beneficiary of the program, Garcia-Baab said.

The F7 Group also provides ongoing retreats and motivational boot camps as well as regular camaraderie for female military veterans. The fellowship helps women veterans deal both with depression and post traumatic stress syndrome that can accompany their discharge from active military service.

Veteran U.S. Army Sgt. Adria Garcia said she counts on the F7 Group for support daily.  Garcia was serving one tour of active duty on Sept. 11, 2004, when she and other members of her unit suffered severe injuries after being hit by shrapnel when mortar from enemy fire penetrated the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy in Bagdad.

Garcia became one of two from her unit to earn a Purple Heart that year, but after her military service ended she felt isolated and she would have ended up homeless had it not been for the help she received from the F7 Group.

“As women, we wear many hats; we take care of our families and we put ourselves last, but we also have dreams and we want to do things,” Garcia said.

“The Girl Scouts help to remind me that there are other people out there who need my help and to remind me to count my blessings. What I might be taking for granted someone else is praying for.”

Garcia, a 42-year-old old grandmother of two, said her both she and her daughter, Erika Manker, plan to become Girl Scout leaders. Garcia volunteered to help load boxes into cars for four hours at the GSCTX Mega Cookie Drop.

F7 Group CEO and founder Cassaundra Melgar-C’DeBaca also volunteered at the Mega Cookie Drop by loading boxes of cookies for the Girl Scouts at Freescale Jan. 11.

“Everybody on my leadership team in F7 Group is ‘of the cloth’ – either a veteran or a spouse of a veteran,” Melgar-C’DeBaca said. “There is a level of camaraderie and trust that comes from going through similar experiences and paths walked in the military. I don’t necessarily have to suffer a bomb attack like Adria Garcia, but we are all connected through friends and family by building relationships through the military.”

F7 Group celebrates its third birthday in Austin May 7, she said. For more information about F7 Group, go to: http://www.f7group.com

“We (F7 Group members) just get back to being center. As we’re women, we’re always serving. That’s just who we are,” Melgar-C’DeBaca said. “As veterans, that’s exponentially so because by nature, we are all servants and givers. By nurture – by military training, sacrifice is what we are trained to do. Everything is about the mission. Someone’s life is on the line with those decisions. After serving in the military, women lose their identity because they no longer have that mission anymore. They don’t know their value anymore.”

Melgar-C’DeBaca said that she joined the Brownies as a youngster growing up in the 1970s at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, the daughter of a U.S. Army career officer. Today, she recognizes that a large number of female military veterans share a love for the Girl Scout organization.

“Many of our soldiers have served in Girl Scouts. Everyone on base was in scouts when I was growing up; that was just part of our culture,” Melgar-C’DeBaca said.

Helping others served as the primary motivation for Gabriella Castillo, a sophomore at San Juan Diego Catholic High School, who joined Brownies and Girl Scouts 11 years ago, she said.

“It’s important to help others and to work together,” Castillo said. “When we get together with friends, the work is just fun.”

Castillo together with her friend, Teresa Oreilla, also a sophomore, at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School, are working to obtain their Gold Awards in Girl Scouts.

“Volunteering is fun,” Oreilla said. “It’s a lot of fun doing all of the activities we do, like the Mega Drop.”

In the early morning hours of Saturday Jan. 11 volunteers unloaded thousands of cases of confections from six semi trailer trucks onto the asphalt parking lot at Freescale Semiconductor Inc. in Oak Hill.

The GSCTX volunteers, dressed in goldenrod T-shirts that read “Mega Drop,” and created tall towers of cases of Girl Scout cookies three to four lanes wide with six stations each and distributed to a non-stop caravan of cars.

Others held clipboards and announced orders to fellow volunteers who loaded car trunks and truck flatbeds all day long in assembly line fashion, cheerfully without stopping for longer than moments at a time.  The women made easy work of the tasks at hand, despite the 15-20 mph winds, a heavy dusting of cedar pollen and chilly temperatures in the 50s.

This year’s Mega Cookie Drop for the Oak Hill service unit of GSCTX drew volunteers and carloads of people from all over Austin and adjacent subdivision.

“It’s a well-oiled machine. It’s pretty impressive,” said Michelle Gonzales, of Meridian subdivision and leader of Oak Hill’s Troop 258, volunteered at the mega drop for the first time as a loading leader.  She and her three daughters, Elise, 10, and Cara, 8, have sold cookies for the past six years. The youngest, Amy, at two and a half years old, just isn’t old enough yet.

“I love what Girl Scouts has taught my daughters – to be independent along with the camaraderie and adventure camps. Because of Girl Scouts, we’ve done things together we wouldn’t normally have done otherwise.”

Mary Henderson, of Troop 237, said she has served as a volunteer for the past 12 years at the Mega Cookie Drop.

Henderson’s daughter, Aidan, 14, has been a member of the Brownies or the Girl Scouts since she was in the first grade. Both Aidan and Kristen Loewe, also 14, earned their Bronze Awards together, said Loewe’s mom, Jan.

The GSCTX unit based in Austin serves about 14,000 girls in 46 counties with Brownwood, Bryan/College Station, Kileen, San Angelo, Stephenville, Temple and Waco.

The $700 million 2014 Girl Scout Cookie Program represents the largest girl-led sales event in the United States with more than 3.2 million girls and adult members. In addition to building confidence, the seasonal activity teaches the girls to make their own decisions, that their decisions count, and how to make change matter. For more information about GSCTX go to: http://www.gsctx.org/join or for more information about the Girl Scouts in general, go to: : http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/history/

Published in the Oak Hill Gazette http://oakhillgazette.com

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