Eight-year-old Molly Donovan has a sure-fire way to convince people to buy Girl Scout Cookies, especially at this time of year.

“The thing is, when it’s near Valentine’s Day, you say they make a great Valentine’s Day present,” Molly explained matter-of-factly.

That sales pitch stays effective even after Feb. 14.

“A late Valentine’s Day present never hurts,” Molly said.

Molly and three fellow members of Girl Scout Troop 775 spent Valentine’s Day manning their cookie booth in front of The Galleria on Main Street.

Friday was the start of cookie booth sales across the region. Sales will continue for approximately six weeks.

For the first time this year, Girl Scouts are also selling cookies at a kiosk in the Christiana Mall.

Nationwide, Girl Scout Cookies, which have been sold since 1917, annually bring in $800 million.

“Girl Scout Cookies are an American icon,” said Jennifer Acord, spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay.

Approximately 70 percent of profits from the cookies go back to the local council, and troops often use some of the money to take a special trip.

“We might go to the beach, we might go to Dutch Wonderland or we might go to Hershey Park,” Molly said.

Troops also choose a charity to donate some of the proceeds to, and Troop 775 decided to give to a local animal shelter.

As she stood outside The Galleria with her fellow Scouts, 9-year-old Abby Partridge said making sales is easy.

“Basically just ask and smile,” Abby said.

Beyond just raising money, Acord said, the cookie program is meant to teach girls five life skills: goal setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

“My favorite part is getting the money and giving the cookies to people,” Deja Matthews, 8, said.

The local Girl Scout council, headquartered on South College Avenue, is selling six varieties of cookies this year: Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Trefoils, Do-si-dos and Savannah Smiles. All cost $4 per box.

“The ones I like best are Tagalongs, but I like all of them,” Scout Emily Donovan, 7, said.

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