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What are your girls going to do with their cookie proceeds?  I love asking girls what their goals are for cookie season, and I've gotten some great responses over the years. 

I remember the first year our daughter sold cookies and the discussion those sweet kindergarteners had.  First, they wanted to go to Paris, then Disney World, and then Krispy Kreme (our daughter proudly led the charge on that one!).  They had a great time selling cookies and then they did go Krispy Kreme -  and the fire station and to paint ceramics, among other things.  The girls loved watching all of their hard work come to fruition, and they also were delighted that they had a hand in choosing what they would do to celebrate.

Our girls dream big when it comes to these major cookie-funded decisions.  We've had girls go to all sorts of places (Our Chalet or Pax Lodge, anyone?), complete projects to support some great causes, and simply have fun in their own backyard.  Help your girls lead the making of these decisions.  They have great ideas, and they also learn about budgeting and even conflict resolution.  Making a goal at the beginning of the sale gives girls something to work toward and be excited about.

So, where will your girls go this year?  The time to decide is now!

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The cookies have arrived - just in time for a nice warm up of our weather!  We hope that you will have a chance to get outside and enjoy this weekend's warm temps and sunshine and take part in our Cookie Walkabout Weekend.  I'll be out on Saturday, myself, with my daughter, and we are looking forward to it!

Speaking of cookies, we need a great sale so that we can continue to present excellent programming for our girls, and we know that your hard work is critical to this effort. If there is something we can help with or a question we can answer, please let us know.  Our product sales team is here to help!

Time for resident camp will be with us before we know it, and we are delighted that so many girls (more than 50!) have already registered for camp.  We are looking forward to a great year, with lots of fun planned and a great new camp director (who's no stranger to most of you), Cheryl Miller. Start making plans to attend now.  We can't wait to see you at Scoutshire Woods or Kamp Kiwanis in June.

As many of you know, our Thin Mint Sprint was cancelled due to the potential for ice and the low wind chill last Saturday morning.  Our team was up and ready to greet racers when the news came that the Mobile police were asking folks to stay inside and off the roads.  We have rescheduled to April 8, with details to come!  However, girls and volunteers who registered should pick up their T-shirt and gift bag at the Mobile office as soon as possible.  The T-shirt is too cute, and you won't want to miss having one. 

Have a great Walkabout Weekend!

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Amy was born and raised in Montgomery, and has fond memories of attending Kamp Kiwanis with her sisters as a Girl Scout!  She is the mother of two children, whom she names as her greatest accomplishments.  

Amy loves encouraging creativity in children, seeing creativity as vital to them becoming well-rounded individuals.  Her love of painting and decorating, as well as supporting the creativity of others, led her to choose  #creative as her hashtag.  The advice she would give young girls is "Be a person who makes others feel special; be known for your kindness and grace."

Creativity runs in her family!  The most influential person in her life, her Daddy, was hospitalized for a bone marrow transplant and saw the financial hardship many patients and their families faced.  From this experience, he created the BMT Angels of Alabama foundation to help them.

As a former preschool teacher, Amy knows that it is incredibly important to start early to help shape girls into young women who have the courage to be themselves and to help others.  Building girls of strong character, who are confident in who they are and confident that they can accomplish anything, must start at the beginning.  With these qualities, they can go on to change the world!

 

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Happy New Year!  I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday break.  We had a great time with our kids and extended family.  Although I admit getting both kids back into their routine this week has been hard.  Our two-year-old begged me on Tuesday morning to "pwease, pwease put my jammies back on, Mommy!" I bet many folks felt the same way that day!

Back at GSSA we are excited to start a new year, and we have so many great things going on this month.  On Saturday, our Thin Mint Sprint 5K will be presented in Mobile at the University of South Alabama.  It's going to be chilly, but so much fun. Please come and join us if you can!  Here's a link to more information: 2017 Thin Mint Sprint.

In case you haven't noticed (ha, ha), the cookie sale has begun!  Cookies should be in troop hands by this time next week, and we are hoping to have a great sale.  We've had a lot of excellent media buzz about the new cookie, which is a good start. Don't forget that girls who sell 25 boxes of cookies are eligible for the entrepreneur discount for programs and resident camp.  Also, girls who sell 800 boxes will receive $175 in program credits toward resident camp, council programs. At 1,600 boxes, girls receive another $175 in credits.

Don't forget that our Walkabout Weekend is Jan. 14-16.  This is a great time for girls to get out in their neighborhoods with their fellow troop members.  Decorate your red wagon, your scooter, or even your golf cart and have some fun selling cookies the "old fashioned" way (i.e. like we used to do it when we were kids!).

Be sure to take a Walkabout photo during Walkabout Weekend featuring your Girl Scout or Troop/Group as she/they go door-to door selling cookies, and email your photo(s)to communications@girlscoutssa.org by the end of the contest (February 24). We will place your photo in a Facebook photo album and the photo that has the most likes will win the contest. We will post photos beginning January 23, so the sooner you send them, the more time for everyone to like them!  The winner receives a $50 GSSA shop gift card!

MCochrane-sm.jpgWhat three items are on Meghan Cochrane's bucket list? World travel, raising her two daughters to be successful, and to make a difference in this world. This desire to change the world is reflected in her chosen hashtag: #Initiative. Meghan says, "#Initiative because as Girl Scouts we get stuff done! We cannot change the world around us if we don't have the initiative to identify what we can change in our communities and then TAKE ACTION to get it done."

Meghan's young daughters are the most influential people in her life; she says they change her for the better each and every day. They are also her proudest accomplishment, after overcoming a long struggle with infertility. The advice she gives to all young girls about life? "Be the light. Make a difference in the lives around you." 

Meghan feels we owe it to girls to teach them life skills at a young age so they are always one step ahead. They are our future and it is up to us to make sure ALL girls have the skills it takes to be successful.

Meghan was a Girl Scout, and has been part of our Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama family for four years.
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It's almost that time!  The holidays?  Well, yes - and I, for one, can't wait for some family fun and special times with our daughter and son.  It's also almost time for ... you guessed it, cookies!

I want to remind everyone that preorders start on Dec 26 (and not before then - we want to be fair to all of our Girl Scout sisters!). We have some great cookie merchandise in our shop, both online and at the service centers.  Be sure to check the cookie pages on our website for troop marketing resources and other important information. Everything you need should be there, and if not, please feel free to call us.  We will be happy to assist you and your girls throughout the sale.

GSSA closes for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 23, and we will re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 3. We hope that you enjoy some well-deserved time off, as well, during the holiday season.  On behalf of our staff, I want to thank each of you for your work to lead our girls into the future.  We are grateful for your love of Girl Scouting and can't wait to begin 2017.  It's going to be a great year!

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Jennifer has been a part of the Girl Scout family for eight years, and believes strongly that Girl Scouting helps girls navigate the social pressures they will eventually experience and make decisions that are healthy and empowering.  Like many adult Girl Scouts (both staff and volunteers), she was a Girl Scout as a child, and her mother was her leader.

The hashtag that Jenn chose is #believe, because "Girl Scouts is about believing in yourself, your dreams, and your ability to make a difference in the world. "  The advice she would give to young girls is "Be kind, thoughtful, and compassionate.  You never know what challenges someone may be facing and you may be the only person who takes the time to make them feel special."

Jenn grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, OH.  She moved to Alabama 12 years ago.  She received her B.A. in Child Development and minored in Family Development.  She lives in Prattville with her husband, two children, and their family dog.  Her hobbies include reading, cooking, and going to the beach.  Her chosen superpower? Traveling at super speed so she could visit her family more often.

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Did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie Sale turns 100 this year? What an amazing accomplishment that our cookie sale started with a great idea from one troop and grew to become world's largest girl-led entrepreneurship program.

I love the story of how the cookie sale started back in 1917, when girls from the Mistletoe Troop in Oklahoma, began selling homemade cookies to support their troop.   By 1922, Girl Scouts of the USA was encouraging troops to sell cookies as a fundraiser, and by 1936, our national organization began licensing bakers to make Girl Scout Cookies.  The rest is history!

To celebrate the 100th year of Girl Scouts selling cookies, we will promote this special occasion throughout the sale. Most notable, we have a new cookie, the S'more, which has all the flavors of the classic snack and is creating a great buzz.  I always gauge the potential success of a new cookie by how quickly it disappears from my house, and when I brought a few S'mores home for my husband and children to try, they vanished in record time to rave reviews.  I've also heard good feedback from volunteers and folks in our community who have tried them, so we hope they will fly out of our pantries and be a great success. Keep your fingers crossed!

Try Digital Cookie this year.  It's a great tool for you and your girls. Your Girl Scout can earn an online patch by selling 15+ packages by using COCO and/or COCOdirect. Volunteers can use Digital Cookie to share links on Facebook, manage reports, and use many more great tools.

Cookie drive-thru's are back this year! These were so much fun last year and got some great publicity for us.  We hope we've worked out all the kinks and will offer more strategic locations this year.  Please help us locate drive-thru locations in your area that you think will help drive the sale. Drive-thru location signup will be through SNAP, just like a regular Cookie Booth Sale, and you can get the drive-thru equipment through your service unit manager.

We are excited about the 2017 Cookie Sale, and I hope you are, too!

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Melinda Stallworth has chosen #Integrity as her hashtag, because treating others with respect and sincerity are important to her.  She believes that "everyone has value - you just have to look for it."  This is a thread that is woven through her commitment to Girl Scouting.  She feels that scouting equips girls with the necessary skills to be not only good leaders who know how to get things done, but also compassionate leaders who contribute positively to their community.

Melinda was raised in Beatrice, Alabama, where her parents and grandparents were her greatest influence.  She was a Girl Scout, and her mother and other women in her community led her troop.  She was brought up with a commitment to volunteerism, which she continues to this day. Melinda's higher education focused on Political Science, Public Administration, and Nonprofit Management.

Melinda enjoys genealogy, playing cards, traveling, politics, and spending time with friends and family.  The oldest of four children, she feels blessed to be involved in the lives of the children in her family and her friends' families.

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I want to thank each of you for the support you have given GSSA during the past year.  We have seen many successes in 2016 and watched our girls do incredible things. They are AMAZING!

This special time of year, in particular, we know that our Girl Scouts are doing wonderful things in their communities.  It does my heart good to see the "attitude of gratitude" our girls have in serving others.  Girl Scouts know the value of making their community a better place, and we see examples of that all year long. 

Please share photos and stories of the special things your troop is doing to help others during this season on giving. We would love to share them with others through social media and other outlets. Simply send these items to communications@girlscoutssa.org.

My family and I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season, filled with great joy and excitement.  We have two children at our house who are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa, so we, like many of you, definitely plan for lots of fun!  I hope that this holiday season brings you time enjoy these special moments with those you love most. Best wishes for a wonderful 2017! 

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