SOUTHERN INDIANA – The annual Girl Scout cookie sales program has kicked off, delivering sweets while helping the community.

Charlestown Girl Scout Troop 1621 used funds from last year’s fundraiser to pay for various activities as well as to build a community pantry outside of their Jeffersonville meeting location, First Presbyterian Church, at 222 Walnut St., according to parent volunteer Heather Lisco.

“We let the girls decide what they want to do with their cookie money,” said Lisco, who also has a 5th grader in the group.

After covering annual expenses and some activities, Lisco said the 8 girls decided to use the rest of the money to build the pantry, collecting donations to fund the rest of the project. Cookie money is also used to help fill the pantry, when community donations aren’t enough, she said.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s showing them with hard work and determination, they can do anything they put their minds to,” Lisco said. “We are blessed our girls have these big caring hearts, and helping people is something they want to do.”

Those girls are part of the 9,000 Girl Scouts in the Kentuckiana area who will be knocking on doors and seeking orders for their famous cookies, according to Brooke Slone, director of merchandising and customer service for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana.

Slone said the program dates back to July 1922, when the group was given the first recipe. Then the cookies were packaged and sold door to door. Now, with 1.5 million boxes sold annually in just the Kentuckiana area, Slone said the program delivers more than just treats. She said the girls are learning goal setting, money management, business ethics and more.

“It is more than just a box of cookies,” Slone said. “There are business skills that are baked into every box.”

This year, the group added a new, crispy lemon cookie, called Lemon-Ups, with inspirational messaged stamped on top.

“That cookie is special, because it’s a great reflection of the program, that each cookie is stamped with an affirmation that the girls have come up with,” Slone said. “The bakery worked with teams of girls, asking them what do you want the cookies to say about you and who you are.”

The chosen messages include ‘I am Creative,’ ‘I am Bold,’ I am a Leader’ and the Girl Scout favorite, ‘I am Gutsy.’

Local scouts are collecting orders now and cookies will come in the week of Feb. 17 for distribution, Slone said. Cookie booths at area businesses will start Feb. 28 running through March 22.

Lisco said her troop’s goal is to sell 4,000 boxes this season.

Slone said all money raised by the program stays local, split between the local troop and the area supporting program, such as Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana.

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