COLUMBIA SC — Betsy Williamson says it was her craving for Girl Scout cookies that prompted her to enroll in the organization as a child.
And while her days as a Brownie troop member are long behind her, the Columbia woman is still a big fan of those tasty bites. So is her entire family.
My favorite is Peanut Butter Patties; my moms, Thin Mints; my dads, Shortbread; my older brothers, Caramel Delights; my younger sisters Peanut Butter Patties; and my little brothers, Shortbread, she said. We love them, and find any Girl Scout we can to stock up for those cold months without them.
Williamson and other Midlands cookie fans wont have to look too far come Friday.
Thats when the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program kicks off this years door-to-door sales. The cookies will arrive for delivery in late February. Customers also can make direct purchases from troops at area grocery stores and retail outlets on weekends from Feb. 21-March 17. The cookies are $3.50 a box.
Debuting this year is the Cranberry Citrus Crisps cookie, with 9 grams of whole grain, cranberry bits and citrus flavor. Returning classic brands include Caramel deLites, Lemonades, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Shortbread, Thanks-A-Lot and Thin Mints.
With $770 million in annual sales, the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in the country. Proceeds stay within the local council jurisdiction and help underwrite troop activities and expenses, programming, membership assistance, program development, training opportunities and property improvements.
When customers buy cookies, they are supporting the most highly acclaimed financial literacy program for girls in the country, said Kim Hutzell, president and chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands.
Mountains to Midlands troop members have increased their cookie sales each of the past six years, while averaging 220 sales per member compared to the national average of 157. Last year, the local council sold more than 1.8 million boxes.
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is using the latest technology this year. COCOmobile, a Girl Scout smart sales app, will let troop members set sales goals, track their progress, and accept orders with their iPhones, iPads or iPods touch devices.
Hutzell said while helping the girls earn money for programs, the annual sales also help them develop five essential skills emphasized in scouting: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.
These are all important ingredients in the Girl Scout leadership experience, she said.
No doubt, Williamson and her family will be eager to help out.
Yum, now Im aching for some cookies, she said.