Girl Scouts on the trails with delectable cookies

Nearly everybody has a favorite Girl Scout cookie. For Annabelle Pepitone, it’s the Thin Mints.

“They’re good,” the 7-year-old Brownie declared after tasting samples of each of this year’s eight offerings — Samoas, Trefoils, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Dulce de Leche, Thank You Berry Munch, Savannah Smiles and, of course, the Thin Mints.

Annabelle and her twin sister Gracie and their mother Lisa Pepitone were among about two dozen girls, leaders and mothers from four area troops participating in this year’s West Side/Port Allen Girl Scouts Cookie Sale kick-off rally held at the Dow Westside YMCA in Addis Saturday morning.

Girl Scouts across America will begin taking orders on Jan. 18, with booth sales beginning March 1. The cookie sale continues through March 17. This year they cost $4 per box.

The cookies are good, the girls all agreed Saturday, and they also are nutritious, according to information on the newly designed boxes that advise consumers the contents are preservative-free, kosher and zero trans-fat per serving.

Scouts on the Westside sold more than $30,000 worth of cookies last year, said event coordinator Neomie Savoy, well over 7,000 boxes. “The cookies sell themselves,” she said with a big smile.

Savoy’s granddaughter, Haley Carney, 10, of Troop 10398, was wearing a brown “Tagalong” cookie-shaped poncho complete with big eyes and a smile. Carney said she likes being a Girl Scout because, “we learn how to work together and how to be kind and nice to people.”

Haley couldn’t recall how many boxes she sold last year, but her troop’s goal this year is 1,000 boxes. The girls also looked over a display of the prizes they can earn ranging from a certificate for selling just one box to “Honey” the golden retriever stuffed toy for selling 256 boxes. The top prize is a laptop computer for selling more than 2,000 boxes.

The girls were divided into groups that visited various display tables around the room, each table named for a cookie.

As they stopped at the tables, they were able to accomplish such things as painting their fingernails in bright colors, drawing posters, and making necklaces from strands of cookie-shaped beads.

Leaders at each table explained to the girls such things as how to present themselves to potential cookie-buyers, how to be cautious — “Don’t go anywhere alone!” — and how to keep track of their cookie sales paperwork.

Julia Elmore, 11, a sixth grader at Crescent Elementary, was dressed as a Thin Mint while helping her aunt Arie Doremus at the tasting table. Julia isn’t a Girl Scout yet, but plans to join soon, she said, because “it looks like a lot of fun and it will give me something to do.”

Alyssa Daigle, 9, was there with her mother Jill Daigle, with Troop 10475.

“I like it because it’s fun,” Alyssa confided, adding that she is boosting her sales goal from last year’s 250 boxes to 300 boxes this year.

Girl Scouting is much more than selling cookies, several leaders stressed, because it teaches girls how to mature into young ladies.

Event coordinator Neomie Savoy said she joined the Girl Scouts as a young girl, her daughter was a Scout and now her granddaughter is a Girl Scout as well.

“It helped me be able to talk to people and not be shy and to set goals,” Savoy said. “We try to teach them the difference between right and wrong.”

Alisha Moore, director of sales at Girl Scouts Louisiana East, said the Girl Scout cookie sales program “is the largest girl-led financial literacy program in the country. Last year, Girl Scouts in our local council sold nearly 1.25 million boxes of cookies, with 200 girls selling 500 boxes or more.”

Girl Scouts Louisiana East serves girls 5 to 17 years of age in the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

Contact the Girl Scouts Council office in Baton Rouge at (225) 927-8946, or visit its website at www.gsle.org. Customers will be able to find the location and times of Girl Scout cookie booth sales online or through the Cookie Locator mobile app, downloadable from the iTunes store, or by calling **GSCOOKIES (**472665437) from their mobile phone.