Fundraisers for kids' activities come in all shapes and sizes – whether it's selling candy bars for band, selling popcorn for the basketball team, selling coupon books, and wrapping paper – just to name a few. And then...there are Girl Scout Cookies. They're in a league of their own.
Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty recently went to Sam Houston Race Park in northwest Houston to observe a sign of just how big the Girl Scout Cookie phenomenon is. It was just the first of this year's several Girl Scout Cookie drops for the Houston area. In other words, if you ordered cookies from a little girl in your neighborhood, they're almost here.
But, before those Girl Scouts can deliver them to you – and before they can set up a table outside the grocery store to entice you with the $4 siren song of Thin Mints and Caramel Delights – all the cookies for the region have to get from the manufacturer to the area's many troops. And that giant logistical undertaking is the cookie drop.
How many cookies are we talking about here? The Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, which serves the scouts in 26 counties around southeast Texas, says 1.2 million packages of cookies were distributed just on the first day, Feb. 10.
How they pull it off is a sight to behold. There were cars, SUVs, trucks pulling trailers, and even rented moving vans in a line about five or six wide and wrapping around a field adjacent to the race park. It had just rained, and there was an inch of mud in some places as troop leaders and parents drove through an assembly line of tractor trailers. Each trailer was filled with just one of the many types of cookie – from Peanut Butter Patties, to Lemonades, to S'mores.
Perhaps the most popular truck was the shipment of Thin Mints. That’s where Jemesha Nelson of north Houston was sitting in her rented U-Haul van as volunteers counted out the 32 cases of Thin Mints alone that she was taking back to her troop — part of an overall load 256 cases she was going to pack into her van.
“We sell aggressively,” Nelson said. “The girls are excited about getting their cookies in.”
Jo Blackburn, department coordinator for product sales for Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, helps oversee the massive undertaking. She said all the vehicles and semis make it too dangerous for actual Girl Scouts to participate in the cookie drop. So it’s a reminder of how much work parents and volunteers put in to make the cookie program a success.
Selling cookies raises funds for numerous Girl Scout activities and camping trips, along with service projects like relief efforts for victims of Harvey.
“I think people understand that it’s more than just the package of cookies,” she said. “That they’re actually supporting Girl Scouts, and they’re supporting that girl in particular.”