Local doorbells may be getting a little extra action in the next few weeks, with Girl Scouts being in gear for their annual cookie sale.  

The ordering process started Friday and booth sales will begin Feb. 21, in cooperation with local retailers like supermarkets. This year's season is to run through March 15, with such offerings as Lemonades, Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel DeLites and Thin Mints (traditionally the biggest seller). Cookie boxes are typically $4 each. A gluten-free variety will be available for $5.

It's an educational experience, several local Girl Scout leaders have readily confirmed. "I think it's very important for the children to learn how to conduct themselves when speaking with adults," said Sheila Johnson, leader of Troop 1972, which meets at Hammond Hill Elementary School.

She mentioned such factors as confidence and eye contact as things that get plenty of emphasis in teaching girls about the sales process. "It's priceless, what girls learn by selling these cookies," she added.

Suman Marks-Johnson, the local cookie manager, said North Augusta's four troops sold 24,970 boxes in 2019, representing about 300 boxes per girl, "so they're doing a great job."

She added, "It's amazing to watch a girl that's maybe only in second grade be able to multiply, to find out how much an order should be, and then count back change to a customer. It always surprises me they can do these things because of the skills they practice every day while they're selling cookies."

The sales process is familiar to Tori White, 8, as she has grown up in an Air Force family and has been a member of three troops, spread among California, Alabama and South Carolina, over the past four years. Her mom, Tenesha White, said Tori appreciates getting to "use her loud voice" in selling cookies.

The mom also pointed out that people who are on a diet but appreciate the outreach have an option to consider."We tell them that if you don't want to buy any cookies, you're welcome to donate, and we will send them overseas to our troops. That's what we teach our girls, and it's 'Troops for Troops.'"

She added, "It does work. I know the troops actually get the cookies that we ship over there, because I personally know people that have gotten the cookies."

Katie Miller, a leader with Troop 415 and Troop 5225, both based at First Presbyterian Church of Aiken, noted, "We don't have a new cookie this year, but it is the last year for Thanks-A-Lots, which is the cookie with shortbread with chocolate on the back. We've had them for 15 years, and it is time to say goodbye. Those are also our lowest seller, so that's why we're saying goodbye."

She added, "The big change that we're going to have this year is that our girls will be able to take credit-card payments for all of their orders through the app that is provided by our baker. They're bringing it into the 21st century, with modern technology and learning about how e-commerce works."

Income from sales goes partially to support troop activities and can also help support a particularly successful seller's participation in summer camp.

New features this year also include the option for any troop member to accept credit cards if she has access to a mobile app (ABC Smart Cookie). There will be no additional charge for purchases by card, Cook said.

A Girl Scout website notes several areas where girls can strengthen themselves through the sales process, including setting goals, making decisions, managing money, relating to people and doing business ethically.

More information is available at 800-849-GIRL and www.gssc-mm.org.