Scouting for cookie lovers
Girl Scout cookie season is officially underway, and Melanie Gabriel-Hastings has set quite a lofty goal: The Oak Creek fifth-grader is aiming to sell 2,018 boxes of Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs and other favorites this year.
The overachieving Girl Scout plans to deliver many of those cookies to customers in Lake Oswego, of course, but she'll also continue her tradition of shipping some boxes to troops overseas.
This is Melanie's fourth year selling Girl Scout cookies, and she says she's learned a lot about the best way to go about it.
"I know what my expectations are, and what I should be doing," she says. "As you grow up, you learn more knowledge."
Local Girl Scouts began taking orders on Jan. 6, and delivery will begin in mid-February. According to The Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, "the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls the skills they need to become effective leaders, manage finances and gain confidence in handling money — skills that will stay with them for a lifetime. Each box of Girl Scout Cookies sold powers real-life experiences for thousands of local girls."
Melanie sets her goals for the cookie season based on the prize she hopes to earn. This year, if she sells 2,018 boxes, she'll earn the top prize: a Chromebook laptop.
"I'll be able to use it for homework," she says. "And I do robotics, so it would be great for that."
It's not just about the prize, however. Melanie says she enjoys selling cookies and being a Girl Scout because of the opportunities it gives her.
"I like to meet new people," she says. "There's so many people that you don't know, and once you give them cookies, you kind of know them. Maybe they'll buy cookies again next year."
Melanie used to go door to door to pre-sell cookies, according to her mother, Megan Gabriel, "but that took up way too much time. So now she only goes door to door once she has the cookies. These girls can end up walking for 10 hours selling cookies."
Cookie sales are more convenient for everyone this year, with options like online ordering and the Girl Scouts Cookie Finder app. Indeed, Melanie has set up a website of her own at digitalcookie.girlscouts.org/scout/melanie1371, where customers can place their order and opt to have the treats either shipped or delivered in person.
There's also an option to donate boxes of cookies to soldiers overseas, something Melanie has done since she started selling cookies four years ago.
"It all started when she was a Brownie," her mom says. "The service unit (of Girl Scouts) had a sponsor who would pay to ship the cookies overseas. Last year they lost the funding, but Melanie was able send boxes with her own money. She plans to do the same this year, hopefully with more boxes."
Melanie will also be hosting a cookie house party in February with her best friend, Makayla McCartney-Pike, who is also a member of Girl Scout Troop 40131 in Lake Oswego and who also hopes to sell 2,018 boxes of cookies. The girls have been selling cookies together from the beginning.
"There's going to be Girl Scout cookie-inspired treats. It's gonna be pretty cool," Melanie says. "One of my favorite parts of selling cookies is hanging out with my best friend."
The money raised through their cookie sales will help both of the girls attend overnight Girl Scout camps over the summer. Makayla says she can't wait for horse camp at Whispering Winds near Philomath. Melanie says she's particularly looking forward to attending Camp Cleawox on the Oregon Coast south of Florence, where she hopes to see a sea anemone or a starfish.
"Girl Scout camp is awesome," she says. "You meet new people and make new friends, and even your counselors become your friends."
In the past, the girls have used some of their profits to buy toys for patients at Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel. Melanie is also passionate about saving the Monarch butterfly, so she says she will put some of the money raised this year toward that cause; in 2017, she was honored by the Lake Oswego Rotary Club with a Service Above Self: Educational Excellence award for donating money she earned through her cookie sales to help her school's butterfly garden flourish.
To learn more about the Girl Scout Cookie program, check out www.girlscoutsosw.org/en/cookies/about-girl-scout-cookies.html.