Girl Scout cookie site sales have begun, and approximately 900 Evanston girls will benefit, says Marisa Naujokas, Evanston Girl Scout Service Unit manager.

Cookie-sale proceeds allow Evanston troop leaders to give these young people unique life experiences, to test their limits and build their confidence outside of school and away from peer cliques, she says.

Evanston Girl Scouts use cookie money to plan and execute community service all around the City, says Ms. Naujokas. Troops have done everything from singing in local retirement homes and making dinner for Evanston firefighters to making pet toys for dogs and cats at the Evanston Animal Shelter.

Some troops practice basic life skills together. Rachel Sobel, who helped coordinate Evanston’s 2011 cookie pickup, says one of her troop’s favorite memories is of shopping, cooking and serving a dinner to each other.

“The girls planned the menu, budgeted their cookie money and we took them to Jewel to shop. They were each responsible for a simple course and they learned how to set a table for a nice meal,” said Ms. Sobel.

Ms. Sobel says her troop is completely funded by cookie money: “Not all of our girls could have participated otherwise. We rarely asked the girls for a dime in our five years together.”

Local Business Helps Get Cookies to Scouts

 More than 50,000 boxes of cookies were ordered in Evanston in 2011. The one-time delivery of that huge product load requires community help.

Four thousand, four hundred and eleven cases of cookies, 12 boxes to a case, hit the shop floor at Dempster Auto Rebuilders just west of Dodge Avenue.

The business has hosted the massive February cookie delivery for six years, says Dick Peach, general manager.

On Feb. 12, volunteers from each of Evanston’s 51 troops who sold cookies this year arrived at staggered loading times to fill cars, SUVs and minivans with cookies.

Despite occasional challenges in finding parking for the delivery trucks and the vagaries of weather, the six-hour process goes smoothly each time, says Mr. Peach.

“It’s an amazing amount of product to move in a short time and it’s all done with volunteers. Everyone gets along, takes it in stride and moves it along. [Girl Scouts] are an amazingly organized group of people,” he said.

Girls Get Big Business Education

Eight-year scout veteran Ruby Smith, 13, says everything from her troop’s cookie planning meetings (which, of course, involve eating cookies) to the site sales is fun for her. “It’s my favorite thing [about scouts]. I like math, so I like to see which cookies are the most popular each year and see the average of which gets sold.”

Ruby’s troop does its yearly site sales near the Jewel-Osco on Chicago Avenue and outside of Borders in downtown Evanston. “You’re standing out in the cold, but it’s fun and you sell lots of cookies,” she says.

Cookie selling is not just a money-maker for the troops, it is a lesson in business that becomes more meaningful as the scouts get older, says Ms. Naujokas.

“The [girls’ understanding of] the cookie process gets more and more complex. They think about it like a team … about how to sell the most cookies with low overhead. They learn about setting goals and it becomes more and more of a business venture.”

Ruby’s current cookie sales may have a lot of work and planning behind them, but her selling points boil down to two things, she says. “They support the local troops, and they are yummy.