Meadville Tribune

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January 6, 2009

Girl Scouts learn life lessons with cookie sale

Cookies equal confidence, according to Marlie Manning of Meadville.

“It’s given me confidence in approaching people,” Manning says of the six years she spent as a Girl Scout selling cookies.

Girl Scout troops across the region will begin the cookie sales once again Friday and take orders for them through Jan. 29. Booth sales at various locations will be Feb. 28 through March 15. The cost is $3.50 per box.

Now age 20, Manning’s a sophomore history major at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, but still remembers the lessons learned during the annual Girl Scout cookie sales.

“You learn how to present a sales pitch, how to handle money, how to handle people’s reactions,” she said. “So much of it applies to life.”

While cookie sales are is the Girl Scouts’ major annual fundraiser, it’s a learning experience, too, said Cori Begg-Bernard, promotions manager for the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.

“The life lessons are so important to us,” said Begg-Bernard. “It’s the root of everything.”

Through their participation in the cookie sale program, Girl Scouts in kindergarten through age 17 learn goal-setting, budgeting, marketing, customer service, public speaking and planning, Begg-Bernard said.

“About 80 percent of women business owners were Girl Scouts when they were girls,” Begg-Bernard said.

The biggest lesson Manning says she learned was how to handle rejection as she went door-to-door and through businesses approaching people.

“It wasn’t hard, but it was more understanding it,” she said. “Mom told me ‘Remember not everybody is going to buy from you so you can’t hold it against them.’”

“If I was rejected, I’d just say, ‘OK, maybe next year,’” she said.

All of the proceeds from the cookie sales stay local and are used to fund programs for Girl Scouts by the troops themselves, said Begg-Bernard.

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