SPRINGFIELD, IL – Girl Scouts of Central Illinois will start selling cookies on Feb. 1. Customers will notice a favorable change this year. The new direct sale format means customers will no longer have to wait for delivery. Girls will now carry cookies with them so customers can enjoy them sooner. In addition to stocking the pantry shelves, customers will once again have the opportunity to share these sweet treats with U.S. troops through Operation Cookie Share. Girl Scouts of Central Illinois kicked off the Operation Cookie Share effort in 2010 and since that time over 190,000 boxes of cookies have been shipped to the women and men of our armed forces at home and abroad. “Our Cookie Program offers so many exciting opportunities to our girls,” GSCI CEO Pam Kovacevich said. “While it's fun for them to sell cookies – they're also learning a number of key skills – both social and academic – that will help them grow as students and future business leaders. “And through Operation Cookie Share they are giving their customers an opportunity to let military troops know that we appreciate their service by purchasing cookies for them.” Customers can either order cookies for Operation Cookie Share from their neighborhood Girl Scout or go to www.OperationCookieShare.org to pledge their support for the effort. Customers can select their favorite cookies including Thin Mints, Shortbread, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Carmel deLites, Lemondades, Thanks-A-Lot or try the new Mango Cremes. Cookies will be sold for $4 per box. The Girl Scout Cookie Program has grown into a leading business and economic literacy program that is run by and for girls. The Girl Scout Cookie Program provides an important ingredient for leadership by helping girls develop five key skills including • Goal Setting • Decision Making • Money Management • People Skills • Business Ethics The financial literacy skills taught through Girl Scouts have proven to be a key factor in shaping financial and personal success for alumnae. An Impact Study about the value of Girl Scouting reveals that Girl Scout alumnae have a higher income/socioeconomic status, a greater level of civic engagement, and are overall more successful than their non-Girl Scout peers (published by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 2012). More than 50 million American women are alumnae of Girl Scouting: Nearly 70 percent of the women in the U.S. Congress today are former Girl Scouts; 64 percent of the women listed in Who's Who of American Women are Girl Scout alumnae; and 53 percent of all women business owners are Girl Scout alumnae. About Girl Scouts Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 8.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of Central Illinois serves 20,000 girls and 5,000 adult members annually in 38 counties throughout central Illinois. For more information, visit www.girlscouts-gsci.org or call your local Girl Scout Service Center at 877-231-1446.