Girl Scouts satisfy the county’s sweet tooth

Girl Scouts Savannah Davies (left) and Maria Stamba (right) smile brightly as they sell cookies door-to-door in North Shelby. (Reporter photo / Jon Goering)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – As the rumors of “Tagalongs,” “Samoas,” “Trefoils” and “Thin Mints” began to spread across the nation like wildfire, it’s clear that it is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year.

Let the mouth-watering cravings and impulse buying begin.

Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for more than 80 years, and the sales have, in turn, taught young women worthwhile life skills.

Hilary Perry, the director of communications and advocacy at Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, sees the cookie-selling method as a means of teaching girls business skills, marketing proficiency and business ethics.

“The cookie program is first a financial literacy program, even before a moneymaking project. (The Girl Scouts) set up goals; they have a marketing plan; they identify who they’re going to target and where the proceeds will go,” Perry said.

The girls’ marketing skills come into play as the pre-orders begin around the Christmas holiday. The colorful cookie-toting boxes don’t arrive until the week of February 11, just before Valentine’s Day.

“They do sell door-to-door, and they also visit their parents’ offices,” Perry said. “After pre-sales are finished, they’ll set up in front of retail businesses.”

Eleven-year-old Maria Stamba was a top cookie seller last year for her troop, Troop 417 from Our Lady of the Valley Catholic School in Birmingham. She’s looking forward to when her troop will set up a booth in front of a retailer in North Shelby.

“It’s fun to meet people,” she said. “With booths, you’re out there with everyone. I just love it.”

Stamba and her cookie-selling comrade, 12-year-old Savannah Davies, have participated in the Girl Scout program since kindergarten. And because of their cookie selling, they’ve learned that simple techniques can go a long way.

“(We’ve learned) to always be nice,” Davies said.

“… and smile!” Stamba added quickly.

Troop 417 isn’t simply selling to help satisfy the sweet tooth of the North Shelby community, however. The girls explained how they keep a jar on their booths to collect change. The troop then uses the change to buy cookies for overseas soldiers. The girls want the soldiers to feel remembered and to enjoy a little taste of home.