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Sweet treats take to the streets

Like trick-or-treaters in reverse, the Girl Guides are bringing sweets to your house. Back: Sophia Hanley, Paige Harrow, Kailee Martin. Front: Grace Knox, Mackenzie Ellis, Paige Badali.[Will Sloan / The Observer]
Like trick-or-treaters in reverse, the Girl Guides are bringing sweets to your house. Back: Sophia Hanley, Paige Harrow, Kailee Martin. Front: Grace Knox, Mackenzie Ellis, Paige Badali. [Will Sloan / The Observer]
Let’s pretend that, in 1927, a Girl Guide leader in Regina had never baked a batch of cookies for her girls to sell, and had never used the money to pay for uniforms and camping equipment. Let’s say, for the past 87 years, there had been no such thing as Girl Guide cookies. What would the Girl Guides look like today?

“We probably would not exist,” says Anna Mariani, provincial cookie advisor for Girl Guides Ontario.

“If we didn’t have a major fundraiser, we would have to find someone who would be willing to give us that kind of money on a yearly basis to keep us going. And cookies seem to be working since 1927.”

For many of us, cookies are the first thing we think of when we think about the Girl Guides. Indeed, it’s nearly impossible to overstate the snack’s importance to the venerable institution. With $5 boxes being sold today (Saturday) and tomorrow across the country, Mariani points out, “It’s the way we raise money for everything we do.

“It is our major fundraiser. We don’t sell anything else as a Girl Guide organization to raise money. Our cookies bring in everything that will help us run all of our camps, training, and subsidies. It helps to provide all of their membership pins, their craft supplies, outings, program books, you name it.”

Many of Ontario’s Girl Guide groups will be peddling their sugary wares at Sears locations. In St. Jacobs, however, the girls will be going door-to-door, and Guide leader Angela Knox predicts that residents will have trouble resisting the allure. “One of our Spark dads had a person ask him for cookies who said, ‘I have a twenty, but I don’t have change.’ So he said, ‘Well, you’ll have to take four boxes.’ That’s a common thing.”

Adds parent Aimee Badali, “I just put a note out at work saying, ‘I’ve got Girl Guide Cookies – who wants them?’ They were gone the next day. They’re nostalgic.”

Door-to-door salesmanship is not a task for the weak-of-nerve, but the young girls say that St. Jacobs loves its sweets. “It’s a lot of fun, because we get to go up to people’s houses and ask if they want to buy them,” says Sophia Hanley. “It’s sometimes scary, but I think it’s fun.”

“Last year I went to this house and the lady inside was so nice, she just kept buying cookies,” says Kailee Martin. “I think I sold four boxes to her. I was nervous when I went up to her door because it looked like an older house. ‘Alright, is it going to be a nice person living here?’ Then I opened the door and it was this really nice lady.”

Today’s chocolate and vanilla sale is one of two annual cookie fundraisers (the girls sell mint-flavoured treats in November). They’ll be on sale for “eight months, or whenever we run out – whichever comes first,” says Mariani. “With the spring classic cookie, we’re almost out in most of the province. I believe come near mid-May, there won’t be a cookie to be found in Ontario.”

Given the demand, it begs the question: If one has access to Girl Guide cookies, does this information get people excited?

“They sit there and go, ‘Do you have cookies on you?’” laughs Mariani. “I’ve now learned not to go anywhere without carrying a few boxes of cookies in my purse, because people are forever asking me. I can give them their local number and say, ‘Call here if you want cookies,’ if they want more than I can give them.”

Kailey Martin adds, “Sometimes I’ll bring some for my teacher and the whole class will ask me, ‘Can I have some?’ And then I’ll say, ‘I wish you could, if you had five dollars …’”

If the St. Jacobs girls don’t knock on your door, you can where cookies are being sold near you at www.girlguides.ca and @girlguidecookie.

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