Gwyneth Rosenbaum-Olins stands outside the Kona Walmart Sunday enticing shoppers to buy Girl Scout Cookies. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Katie Wickersham, 7, right, suggests Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies to Jill Collier and her son, Preston, Sunday afternoon in front of the Kona Walmart. (photos by Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Girlscouts Hailey Johnson, 5, right, and Katie Wickersham, 7, sell a box of Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies Sunday outside of the Kona Walmart. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Stacked outside the Kailua-Kona Walmart Sunday were boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Dulce de Leche, Thank U Berry Munch and Savannah Smiles. Dressed in the badge-filled vests and sashes, girls enthusiastically greeted shoppers with three words: “Girl Scout Cookies.”
The best part, according to 7-year-old Emma Akana from Girl Scout Troop 242, is everyone smiles at their cookie calling. “People love our cookies and everyone has a favorite. It’s usually the Thin Mints or the coconut Samoas,” she said.
Eight-year-old Jolie Glicker agreed, adding that people usually don’t buy just one box of cookies, which cost $5 each. The most boxes she has ever seen a person buy at once was seven or eight.
Akana and Glicker are among the nearly 2,600 Girls Scouts in kindergarten through twelfth grade helping sell and distribute more than 380,000 boxes of cookies statewide this month.
“This is a record number for Hawaii,” said Reyna Kaneko, Girl Scouts of Hawaii chief marketing offer. “The growing demand for Girl Scout cookies can be attributed to the growing platform for our girls to learn skills and leadership through the program.”
Girl Scouts use hard-earned cookie funds to help change the world around them. For example, Kauai Girl Scout Isabel Gampon used her earnings raised from last year’s cookie program to help other girls whose families are economically struggling by designing and sewing sundresses from pillowcases. With help from Child & Family Services on Kauai, Gampon’s dresses were given to children in her community through Nana’s House, a family support and community outreach center in Waimea.
“Girls are not only learning marketable skills as our leaders of tomorrow, but they become caring responsible and trustworthy citizens today,” Kaneko said.
Finding a cookie booth site has gotten easier. The organization has a free application called “Girl Scout Cookie Finder,” which is available for smartphones. Users will find a complete list of vendors, can search for booth locations, watch Girl Scout videos and learn more about the cookie program.
Every penny earned from the sales in Hawaii stay in Hawaii, and as part of the program, troops can also use their funds to buy badges, materials for craft projects or to further develop leadership skills. This may include helping support a myriad of enriching experiences, such as field trips, skill-building clinics or projects, environmental stewardship, community service projects or camping.
The act of selling cookies teaches the participants goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics, aspects essential to leadership, success and in life, according to the state organization.
“Selling cookies is fun,” Akana said. “We get to hang out with our friends and parents. It’s nice meeting new people.”
“It’s also fun making people happy by selling them cookies that are good,” Glicker chimed in.
“The money that we get also makes us happy because it let’s us help others and let’s us try to make the world a better place,” she added.
Seven-year-old Katie Wickersham joined Girl Scouts two years ago because she wanted to meet more girls her age and thought it would be fun. She said the organization has taught her more about how to work together and reach goals through different projects, including the cookie program.
Her mother, Heather Wickersham, said the experience helps Katie have a connection with the community and helps her feel like she’s a part of it and can give back. Wickersham also called the program a terrific building block as she has witnessed Katie become more confident, especially when communicating in a positive way with strangers. Such foundation will be helpful later in college, work and throughout life, she added.
Kailua-Kona resident Angelia Anderson bought four boxes on Sunday because she loves the cookies and the organization. Her favorite? “Do-Si-Dos,” Anderson said without missing a beat.
Anderson thinks it’s great that Girl Scouts have continued to honor the traditions of selling these famous cookies, with the help of their supportive families, for more than 95 years. She was a Girl Scout years ago and still feels the organization is important because “it teaches children so many important lessons.”
According to the national organization, Girl Scout cookies began in 1917 when a group, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Okla., baked cookies at home and sold them in the high school cafeteria as a service project. In the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scouts in different places around the country baked sugar cookies, later packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker and sold door-to-door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen. By 1936, the organization licensed the first commercial baker to produce cookies that could be sold nationwide, and a year later, more than 125 Girl Scout councils were holding cookie sales.
However, cookie sales were interrupted by World War II when sugar, flour and butter shortages existed. This led Girl Scouts to sell calendars instead. Cookie sales resumed after the war and throughout the decades have increased. The number of cookie varieties and packaging have also changed. But the purpose and the benefits of Girl Scouting have remained the same.
For more information, visit girlscouts-hawaii.org or girlscouts.org.