Girl Scouts of all ages can participate in the organization's annual cookie sale fundraiser.

Girl Scouts heat up 102nd year of cookie sales this week

Girl Scouts of all ages can participate in the organization’s annual cookie sale fundraiser. Photo by Sheila Herman via flic.kr/p/k8zH7y.

Girl Scout cookie pre-ordering kicked off Jan. 5 in the greater Memphis area and will continue through Jan. 25.

Cookies will actually arrive next month, with Girl Scouts delivering their pre-orders and manning their weekend sales booths at local stores starting Feb. 22. Booth sales will end March 17.

To find a local troop, locate nearby booth sales, download the app for buying cookies or even order online, visit girlscoutshs.org and click on the Cookies tab. (Note: The new Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie will not be available in this area.)

The popular treats do more than tempt the new year’s dieters; they also help to make sure that the next generation of female entrepreneurs build the business skills essential for leadership and future success.

Almost 1 million Girl Scouts nationally participate in the cookie program each year, generating nearly $800 million in sales during the average season. And all the net revenue raised – 100 percent of it – stays within the area.

Local councils use cookie earnings for programming, community projects, personal enrichment opportunities and more.

The percentage of profits that goes to local troops also helps them offset costs of items like vests, badges the girls earn and other Girl Scout-related items. They can go to educational exhibits where they can earn more badges and learn about new careers or ideas changing their world. Troops can and have taken trips to places like the birthplace of Girl Scouts in Savannah, Ga., and even trips around the world to Japan, France, England and South America. Some troops even decide to take their hard-earned money and donate portions of it to causes they regularly volunteer with, such as homeless shelters or animal shelters. (Note: Girls’ cookie earnings alone aren’t enough to power the Girl Scout Movement – investing in girls is important year-round, not just during cookie season.)

Girl Scouts often use official cookie costumes to help them attract attention and sell more cookies at their booths. Photo by Justin Ennis via flic.kr/p/5JnBXx.

The skills practiced during cookie sales also enrich the girls’ lives, Girl Scout leaders say: More than half (57 percent) of Girl Scout alumnae in business say the cookie program was beneficial to skills they possess today, such as money management, goal setting and public speaking.

Every level of Girl Scouts from a 5-year-old Daisy to a 17-year-old Ambassador has the chance to earn badges in Financial Literacy and Cookie Business Badges during the annual Girl Scout cookie season.

“Girl Scout Cookies are a fantastic and fun way for girls to learn essential life skills like goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics,” said Melanie Schild, CEO of Girl Scouts Heart of the South, the regional council that serves 59 counties in north Mississippi, west Tennessee and Crittenden County, Ark., as well as maintains three camps and four regional service centers.

She continued, “It’s not just a chance for them to sell a product and raise funds; it’s a chance for them to learn true entrepreneurship, leadership and financial literacy while providing the public with a tasty treat that after more than a century, has become an American tradition.”