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Girl Scouts, volunteers converge on Vancouver warehouse to stock up on cookies

Greg and Renate Jeppeson packed about 200 cases of Girl Scout Cookies into the back of their pickup truck, parked outside of a warehouse bay door in east Vancouver on Saturday morning.

The couple, from Estacada, Ore., were picking up the cases for Eagle Creek, Ore., Girl Scout Troop 45706 during Girl Scout Cookie Depot Days, which draws more than 1,000 girl scouts and volunteers to warehouses in Vancouver and Oregon where the delicious goodies are housed for distribution.

Their 16-year-old daughter is a member of the troop, along with several other teens around the same age. Renate Jeppeson said it’s her eighth year taking part in the popular annual cookie sale, and she has no doubt that they’ll all be bought up.

“We’ll have to get some more. We always do,” Greg Jeppeson said.

From the warehouses, the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington help transport 1.6 million boxes of cookies in a week, from Feb. 6 to Feb. 12. The booth sales of the cookies start Feb. 14.

The warehouse in Vancouver, Lile North American Moving and Storage, held 40,735 cases containing 488,820 cookie boxes. The organization said it expected 205 girl scout troops to pick up the boxes.

Volunteers, girls and their families all played an integral role in bringing the entire operation together.

The Girl Scouts note that while the most memorable thing about cookie-hawking season may be the young saleswomen posted in front of local grocery stores, there are many volunteers working behind the scenes. They serve a variety of important roles — coordinating booth sales, managing inventory and organizing related events.

People in a line of trucks and minivans waited for their turn to get the packages. The day started around 7 a.m. and the pace had not let up by noon. Volunteers were constantly hauling pallets of the cookie packages, stacked six high, toward the bay doors. A procession of Girl Scouts passed the boxes from each other to the cargo areas of waiting cars.

The eight varieties of cookies include classics such as Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs, among others. New this year is Lemon-Ups, a crispy lemon cookie baked with messages inspired by Scouts.

Karen Hill, CEO of Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, said sales of the cookies have increased almost every year. Hill thanked the community for its support in making that increase possible, but she added that technology has also helped maximize purchases.

Girl Scouts can set up “digital cookie websites,” online stores where fans of Do-si-dos can buy hoards of their favorite treat without going out into the real world. Customers can also use the Girl Scout Cookie Finder, a smartphone app that lets them plug in a ZIP code to find the nearest store with a Girl Scout booth.

“We’re trying very hard to be on the ball with tech,” Hill said. “It’s where the girls want to be.”

Having to participate in the sales teaches girls leadership and financial skills, according to the organization. More than half of Girl Scouts alumnae in business say the cookie program was beneficial to skills they possess today — money management, goal setting and public speaking.

Standing inside the Vancouver warehouse holding a clipboard, 17-year-old Rowan Wiley said she moved to Oregon City, Ore., from a small town in the Puget Sound area, so before this year, her troop only had one truck filled with cookies that distributed to her community.

“It’s been a little busier than what I used to do,” Wiley said. “It’s running more smoothly than I expected. I’ve heard stories about how hectic it can be.”

Wiley said that in the best year of sales she had, she sold around 500 boxes. She said other girls she knows have sold around 2,000. She’s used the digital marketplace to sell to far-flung family members, but she enjoys going out and speaking with people, even if they don’t end up buying.

“I like hearing stories from people that used to be Girl Scouts. (Selling at booths) teaches you a lot about communication, how donations work, keeping inventory,” she said.

People who don’t want to buy cookies for themselves can buy boxes that are donated to Meals on Wheels, according to Hill.

All of the net revenue earned from the cookie sales stay with the local Girl Scouts council. The money funds enrichment experiences like camps and traveling and aids in community service projects that 914 girls and 575 adult members in Clark County take part in.


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