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Barbara Townsend delivers boxes of the “Super Six” Girl Scout cookies. Sales officially begin Friday.

Get out your purses and wallets and prepare for Girl Scout cookies.

Local sales will begin Friday, Feb. 11, and there are some important changes this year. Most customers won’t have to wait for orders to be returned.

“We’ll have cookies on hand starting Friday,” said Barbara Townsend, who coordinates the cookie program locally with Cheryl Overacker. “There will be no more waiting for your order to come in. Girls have cookies in hand from day one. You’ll start seeing booth sales set up Feb. 25. The only time you’ll have to wait for an order to be returned is if, at the time you buy, the Girl Scout doesn’t have the kind you want – if they’ve sold out of that kind. All troops are starting out with every kind of our ‘Super Six’ cookies.”

Overacker believes offering products up front, instead of having to order, will lead to more sales.

“The western part of the state tried selling this way last year, and I think they sold more,” said Overacker.

Available this year are Samoas, Trefoils, Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, and Lemon Chalet Cremes, known as six of the best-selling Girl Scout cookies in history. Townsend said two selections previously offered – Dulce De Leche and Thank U Berry Munch – have been pulled from the menu in Cherokee County.

Michelle Tompkins, a spokeswoman for Girls Scouts of the USA, recently told CNN that cutting those two is part of a new program in 12 of its regions to reduce the offerings. That should, she said, cut back on the surplus products often left over from the less-popular treats.

Cookies sell for $4 per box. Those who aren’t sure where to go, or who to visit with, to buy Girl Scout cookies can log on to the program’s website, www.girlscoutcookies.org, for a “Cookie Finder.” The toll-free Cookie Line, (800) 707-9914 (press 7 after dialing) will help locate a local troop. Sales will end March 27.

The Girl Scout cookie program offers a hands-on leadership and business experience for participants. There are 13 troops in Cherokee County, with nearly 170 girls participating, and 65 registered adults who are leading the program.

“It’s a lesson on money handling, goal-setting,” said Townsend. “And it’s usually also a way for troops to finance their programming. For instance, if they want to take a trip, that’s how they can pay for it.”

Girl Scouts have varying levels of involvement in the process, from making connections with potential customers, to counting money, delivering a product and more. How involved one participant is in the process depends on her age and level within the program, said Townsend.

“Depending on level, you’ll be more involved in the decision-making,” she said.

Adults, said Overacker, also benefit from the program. Many leaders have their own children in the program, but some have no children.

“You can watch them grow,” said Overacker. “It’s about the interaction you get with them in the program.”

The cookie program is the nation’s largest “girl-led business” and the leading financial literacy program for girls, according to Becky Graheck, communications specialist for Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma. It is designed for girls ages 5-18.

“The role of business skills in a girl’s life is more important than many people realize,” said CEO Roberta Preston.

“The Girl Scout cookie program is much more than a sale. It is truly a program that gives girls real life experience and guidance in goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.”

Girl Scouts began March 12, 1912, and in 1917, the first troops were formed in several cities and towns in Oklahoma. Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma serves nearly 10,000 girls and 3,000 volunteers.

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