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Empowering girls through courage, confidence and character <p>

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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — For nearly 90 years the Girl Scout Cookie Program has helped girls foster a sense of personal and collective empowerment by promoting skills they will use throughout their lives.

Through this annual activity, girls ages six to 17 learn how to set goals, develop action plans to reach those goals, work together as a team and cultivate a sense of business ethics.

Additionally, they build confidence by developing public speaking and interpersonal communication skills. Girls also acquire knowledge in money management, marketing and customer service, thereby making the Girl Scout Cookie Program the nation’s premier financial literacy and entrepreneurship program.

”Each and every year I know we are training girls to fill all sorts of roles in the future. They may become the manager of a local bank branch, owner of a local business, efficient manager of a tight home budget, or the CEO of a major corporation,” said Judith E. Wise, Girl Scouts of Spar and Spindle Council CEO. “How many tasty products can you buy that have courage, confidence and character baked right inside?”

Throughout the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, girls will begin selling Girl Scout cookies on Jan. 5, 2006, and continue until the end of the month. You can satisfy your cookie cravings with old favorites like Thin Mints, Caramel Delites, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbread, Peanut Butter Patties and Reduced Fat Lemon Pastry Cremes. Or you can try one of the two new flavors this year: Cartwheels and Thanks-A-Lots. This year, five of the eight varieties of Girl Scout cookies are trans-fat free.

All proceeds, after paying the baker, stay in the local community. Part of the money stays at the council level to support girl programs, leader training and camp maintenance. The remainder goes to the individual troops where girls decide how to spend it, thus further encouraging goal-setting and leadership abilities.

Cookies are $3.50 per box and are available from your neighborhood Girl Scout. To find a troop in your area call (978) 689-8015.

Girl Scouts of Spar & Spindle Council serves more than 14,400 girls and 3,500 adults throughout the North Shore and Merrimack Valley. Girl Scouts is the world’s preeminent organization for girls and is committed to helping girls build courage, confidence and character. Through Girl Scouts, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together, and work to make the world a better place.

For information call (978) 689.8015 or visit www.ssgsc.org.