It's cookie time

Get ready—soon, girls across Mahomet will be ringing doorbells with a familiar question: Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?

The cookie-selling season got off to a rousing start on Saturday, Jan. 7, as Mahomet Girl Scouts gathered at Sangamon Elementary for a cookie kickoff.

Over 100 Scouts attended the event, which was intended to energize girls for the cookie-selling season. Demand was high enough that some girls were placed on a waiting list. A similar event held in Urbana on the same afternoon was also filled to capacity.

“This is a way for the girls to get together and learn about sales and the different kinds of cookies,” said troop leader Mindy Heaton, one of the organizers of the event. Similar cookie rallies are being held all across the country.

Girls participated in a number of activities, from crafts to trivia games to (of course) snack time.

At one station, members of Junior Girl Scout Troop 2219 taught younger girls how to sell cookies safely. Dressed as witches, Kinzy Buhrman and Ali Voss tried to lure role-playing Daisy and Brownie Scouts into their “house” (actually a tent set up inside the gym). Meanwhile, Ariel Rawley held up a sign with safety tips.

“What are you girls selling today?” the witches cajoled. “Want to come in?”

When the girls refused, the witches revealed that this had been a wise choice—they held up a plastic cauldron with two Girl Scout vests crumpled inside. “This is what happened to the last girls who came in,” they told them.

It's unlikely that Mahomet Girl Scouts will run across any real witches during their cookie sales, but the lesson was real. Stressing that threatening strangers don't always come with pointy hats and warty noses, the older scouts sought to ensure that their younger counterparts stay safe while raising money for their troops.

“They need to be safe, and they don't always know not to go in somebody's house,” Voss said.

Are the older girls still excited for cookie sales, even though this won't be their first time?

“Yes!” chorused Voss, Buhrman and Rawley.

Not all the sales lessons were about safety. Near the witches' tent, fellow Junior Girl Scouts gave presentations on polite selling techniques and how to describe the taste of each cookie to those who haven't tried them.

Cookie sales kick off on Jan. 13 and run through the beginning of February. The cookies will be delivered in early March—which is also when you'll also see “cookie booths” set up around town, for instant Girl-Scout-cookie gratification.

Mindy Bristle coordinates cookie sales in the Mahomet area. She noted that the same types of cookies—Thin Mints, Caramel Delites, Thanks-a-Lots, Peanut Butter Patties, Lemonades, Shortbreads, Shoutouts and Peanut Butter Sandwiches—were available as last year.

Although the names might seem a bit unfamiliar, if the last box of cookies you bought came from a Girl Scout outside Mahomet.

Bristle explained that the names of the cookies vary from location to location, depending on which of the two Girl Scout cookie distributors is used. In some areas, for example, Caramel Delites are known as Samoas, and Peanut Butter Patties are called Tagalongs.

Like everything else, the cost of a box of Girl Scout cookies has increased this year—up 50 cents, to $4.

Once again this year, Mahomet residents have the option to buy a box of cookies to be sent to an American service member, through the Operation Cookie Share program. Last year, Illinois residents sent $500,000 worth of Girl Scout cookies to troops serving overseas.

The proceeds go to fund local Girl Scout events and activities, and individual girls earn “cookie dough” that can go toward camp fees and Girl Scout gear.

There are 27 Girl Scout troops in Mahomet—eight of which started in the past year alone, to accommodate over 150 new Scouts.

“Girl Scouting in Mahomet has really grown,” said Heaton, manager of the Mahomet Area Service Team. The Service Team, made up of a handful of troop leaders and interested parents, coordinates activities and provides inter-troop leadership for Mahomet Girl Scouts.

The group was resurrected last year after a few years of inactivity. During that time, troops who wanted to attend large events often had to go to Champaign-Urbana or Bloomington. Now, Heaton and her fellow Service Team members hope that's changing.

Events like a community clean-up at Lake of the Woods and a fall festival have attracted large crowds of Scouts and their families, and a recruiting drive at Mahomet schools garnered refreshed interest in Girl Scouting.

But Heaton said that more Service Team members were needed to continue this progress. “We're a small but mighty group,” she said, adding that parents, current and former troop leaders, former Girl Scouts and even teachers were welcome to join.

She said that anyone interested in joining the Service Team could email mahometgirlscouts@gmail.com or call her at (217) 417-4454.

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