WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 08, 2012, 08:20 PM

Disgruntled Ohio Girl Scouts refuse to sell cookies

AKRON, Ohio _ Fourteen members of a Girl Scout troop in Aurora, Ohio, have their own recipes for making money, and they don't involve selling cookies.

AKRON, Ohio _ Fourteen members of a Girl Scout troop in Aurora, Ohio, have their own recipes for making money, and they don't involve selling cookies.

Unhappy that local leadership has moved to sell four of their seven camps, they have decided not to sell the cookies that help pay for their program.

"They can work at McDonald's or do baby-sitting" to earn money for their activities, troop leader Marie Cassidy said. "They have options. It's just not worth their while."

Troop leaders say pockets of girls are not taking part in the annual cookie drive in the 18-county North East Ohio council.

"It has been a really difficult decision for them," said troop leader Jean Miller of Cleveland Heights. "It's a really hard place to be when you're 12 years old."

Cookie sales are the foundation of Girl Scout fundraising. Every December through March, the sales campaign generates the money to help run the regional office and pay the staffers who provide services and programs.

In 2010, about two-thirds of the 37,000 girls in the North East Ohio council took part in the optional programs and sold $11.2 million in nuts and candy in the fall and cookies in the winter. Of that, $3 million went to the baker; $2.1 million, to the troops; and the rest, to the council office for operations. Product sales are the largest source of council income.

"Every time a troop comes into my office, I thank them and tell them this is a girl-funded, girl-led organization," said John Graves, chief financial officer for the North East Ohio council. "The girls are responsible for the entire organization."

But the organization's annual cookie campaign is colliding with girls and troop leaders who resent the planned sale of four more camps and the transformation of the three that remain into "premier leadership centers" with modern amenities.

One Stark County troop leader, on the condition of anonymity or fear of reprisals from the council office, said many of her girls will not sell cookies this year or will limit their sales to established customers.

Her own daughter, a vigorous saleswoman in the past, is among those boycotting the cookie sales.

"I will be very surprised if our entire troop sells more than 500 boxes of cookies this year, so we will definitely have to find other sources of income," the troop leader wrote in an email.

Last year, Miller's Cleveland Heights troop was newly formed and "super enthusiastic" about selling cookies to support its activity of choice: camping. The troop stretched $800 in cookie proceeds into three camping trips.

The troop will meet later this month to decide "whether to lean on parents more [for activity funds] or do less" because they won't earn as much in cookie money, Miller said.

Even when the girls sell cookies, they don't get most of the proceeds. Troops get 60 to 83 cents per box, depending on the number of boxes they sell and the size of the troop,

So girls often have to pay for activities.