When 9-year-old Girl Scout Anaiya had a secret she wanted to share, she knew immediately where to go.
The Scout and her troop leader walked into The Daily Progress newsroom carrying a package of WDDs — weapons of dietary destruction — with the hope of warning Central Virginians that the streets soon will be full of Scouts selling their annual fundraising confection, Girl Scout Cookies.
The cookies, and the Scouts who peddle them, will be unleashed on the public come Jan. 17 when Scouts start setting up sales booths, according to the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline, the chapter to which Anaiya’s Troop 32 belongs.
“I brought some to share,” Anaiya said, shyly, placing on a newsroom desk boxes of Thin Mints, S’mores, gluten-free Toffee-tastics and a box of secret cookies, the name and flavor of which are being withheld by the Girl Scouts until January.
The four samples are half of the cookie selections that will be available next month. The boxes will go for $5 each.
“I hope you’ll write about it. I think it’s news. Just don’t write about the secret ones,” Anaiya said. “You can write about them, but don’t say what they are. Just say they taste good.”
Cookie sales are big news for more than 1 million Girl Scouts who every year spend January through March selling cookies. It’s news for customers who purchase an estimated 200 million boxes of cookies. It’s also news for the whole Girl Scout organization as the sales raise about $800 million to help fund national, regional and local scouting groups, according to the Girl Scouts of the USA.
The company baking the cookies receives about 20% of the revenue from the sales, while about 60% – $2.95 a box – goes to regional scouting programs, according to information from the Girl Scouts.
The remaining 20%, about $1 for each box sold, goes directly to the troop and the girls who sold the cookies. They get to decide how they’ll spend those funds.
Anaiya is hoping the troop’s hard-earned cookie dough will send the girls into the woods.
“People like them because they taste good, and if they buy them, then we can go on trips and do things, like camping,” she said.
“We’re going to get to go camping this year, and this time we’ll get to camp in tents. Last year, we went camping but it was in cabins,” Anaiya said. “It was OK, but I want to go camping in a tent. When I joined Girl Scouts, I thought we’d be camping, camping, camping but when I found out it was only once a year, I was, like, ‘arrrgh!’ So I hope we get to go more times and camp in tents.”
Besides funding camping trips, the sales effort has an educational aspect.
“The idea is to teach the girls to set a goal, work toward that goal and feel the satisfaction of seeing themselves reach their goal,” said Mallika Rodriguez, Troop 32’s leader. “It’s designed to teach about running a business, handling money, making decisions and talking to people. It builds their confidence.”
Nikki Williams, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline, agreed.
“We’re the organization creating the female leadership pipeline, the go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders of tomorrow,” she said in a statement. “When you purchase cookies, you are helping girls power their Girl Scout experience and you’re supporting female entrepreneurs.”
“It’s about having fun, and with Girl Scouts, it’s having fun with a purpose,” Rodriguez said. “Our programs are really thoughtfully designed, so there’s a badge and a purpose for everything we do.”
“Our programs focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and coding and economics in fun ways,” she said.
For Anaiya, last year’s cookie sale was a lot fun and a lot of effort.
“It took a lot of time. There was a lot of calling customers and walking, walking, walking,” she said. “I made little notes [during] a train ride to send to people who bought boxes to say thank you. Everyone wants to hear ‘thank you.’”
Besides the cookies that Anaiya brought to the newsroom, Girl Scouts also will sell traditional Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos and Trefoils.
And as for the secret cookie, they do in fact taste good.