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Girl Scouts go high-tech with cookie sales

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Girl Scout Cookie Chart

THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT

Customers with smartphones have the ability to download the Cookie Locator app for free by dialing **GSCOOKIES, which will prompt a text message for immediate download.

Did you miss the door-to-door Girl Scout in your neighborhood? Or forgot to sign up for a few boxes from your co-worker?

Never fear. The Girls Scout have gone high-tech to help you locate and purchase the infamous sweets.

"It's time. So much of our day-to-day lives involve technology, Girl Scouts would have its girls at a disadvantage if we were not incorporating more technology tools into our program that embodies business savvy, money management, people skills, goal-setting and decision-making," Product Sales Marketing Coordinator Sarnethia Sykes said. "All of these things take on a new life when using the tools of computers, phone or Internet, and present an opportunity to engage girls and customers in a whole new aspect."

To keep up with a technological age, the organization is using its website to help buyers easily find troops to purchase from in the area. Starting Feb. 11, the public can use the Cookie Locator, an application set up to help locate girls selling in your neighborhood by entering your ZIP code. To use the locator, visit cookielocator.littlebrownie.com.

If you want to find cookies through your phone instead, there is an app for that.

Customers with Apple or Android smartphones have the ability to download the Cookie Locator app for free by dialing **GSCOOKIES, which will prompt a text message for immediate download.

The app allows people to choose the times to shop for cookies, map the route to the store, add the sale date to your phone's calendar and share cookie booth locations through social media and email.

Now that you've found your cookies and made it to the location, it's time to pay for the sugary confections. No cash? No problem.

Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta has established a relationship with Sage Mobile Payments to offer free swiping device to any troop who wants one.

"Being able to accept credit cards allows girls to meet customers where they are," Sykes said. "So many times we hear of people being approached to purchase cookies, but can't because they aren't carrying cash. Having the opportunity to offer them this alternative means of purchasing supplies both parties with great satisfaction -- the customer has cookies and the troop has sales."

And the purchasers leave with an electronic receipt and their cookies.

The funds raised from the cookie sales aren't just being used to pay for camping trips anymore. Girl Scouts are now participating in competitions in science, technology, engineering and math -- better known as STEM.

"The goal is to educate girls in STEM fields and fuel the nation's career pipeline, all while the girls have a blast learning by doing," External Affairs Manager Anji Roe Wood said. "The Girl Scout Cookie Program funds this type of STEM related programming that engages girls ... and Girl Scouting has become a key place to help develop the future female leaders of tomorrow in the industry."

One Gwinnett team was funded with the STEM money to explore robotics. From August to January, a group of nine Sugar Hill and Suwanee scouts were part of The Popcorn Machines, a robotics building team. The girls were coached and mentored by Tom McCarthy and David Soler.

During the season, the team placed third at the local qualifiers at North Gwinnett Middle School, but the girls did not qualify at the Super Regionals at Creekland Middle School.

Although they didn't move on in the competition, McCarthy believes the young women learned valuable skills from their involvement.

"They learned about robot building and programming, which involved a lot of trial and error to see what worked and didn't, as they attempted to complete the prescribed missions of the robotics challenge," he said. "Probably the most important thing was learning to work together, make decisions and follow up, and respect each other's opinion. It was amazing to watch them develop as a team, make decisions, solve problems and come up with solutions without much assistance."

The Girls Scouts of the USA haven't started selling their cookies online yet, but could in the next few years. The organization recommends never buying Girl Scout Cookies on any sites, including Amazon, eBay and other auction or community sites. There is no guarantee of freshness or authenticity.