Image source: Pexels.com
First off, I should explain that I am fascinated by the concept of Girl Scout cookies. Living in England, the "cookie season" is not a thing, and I was basically introduced to Girl Scout cookies by that Friends episode where Ross befriends a "Brown Bird" named Sarah Tuttle and takes over cookie sales on her behalf.
In that Friends episode, Ross is proud of beating the previous year's sales champion, who sold 475 boxes. He manages to sell 517 boxes (many, admittedly, to himself) but is still outdone by two other Brown Birds, one of whom managed to sell 2000 boxes of cookies.
I had no idea at the time what these cookies might look like, or why they come in boxes (cookies come in plastic tubes, don't they?!) but I knew that 2000 boxes were a lot. In the Friends episode, the Brown Bird sells so many because she lends her uniform to her 19-year-old sister, who sells them to servicemen. (Problematic, these 90s comedies, weren't they?!).
However, the 2000 boxes in Friends pale into insignificance next to the record set this month by Lilly Bumpus, an 8 year old from San Bernardino in California. This year, she sold 32,484 boxes of the cookies - smashing the previous record of 26,086. That is a lot of cookies. (Please be aware that I still don't know what the boxes look like. How big are they?! How many actual cookies are we talking about here, please?! Answers on a postcard).
Anyway, the residents of San Bernardino were happy to buy cookies from Lilly. She's already a hero and her name was well known - she is a cancer survivor, and the nonprofit foundation her parents set up in her name has already helped lots of other children. When it came to the time to sell cookies, Lilly was keen to help the nonprofit further, and promised to donate cookie funds to the lifesaving effort.
As well as putting in 11-hour days outside her house (the pandemic meant that there could be no cookie stalls near shops), Lilly orchestrated online sales, with boxes being sold as far away as Canada and Italy. (What, you mean they went to Europe?! You mean I could've bought some and seen what they look like?!). The funding raised by the cookie sales will be used to help the homeless and support childhood cancer research, which is an unarguably excellent use of funds.
I thought "wow, I never knew I could do that". And it just meant so much to me to see that huge number. It's like the biggest number I've ever seen." - Lilly Bumpus
When the official total of sales was confirmed, Lilly's troop held a special celebration, with balloons and cheering. It's particularly impressive that she achieved this feat during a pandemic, when footfall was lower and there were fewer opportunities to sell cookies face-to-face, but it's testament to the way that the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged us all to think outside the box that she was able to find ways to sell cookies more imaginatively and boost the total sales.
As well as selling the cookies over the 3-month "season", Lilly arranged for around 5000 donated boxes to be distributed and delivered to children suffering from cancer.
What's most impressive is that according to her mother, Trish Bauer, Lilly's sales were not made to big businesses or in bulk. She said that the most boxes ordered at once was an order of 100 boxes. The thousands of boxes sold in the "usual way", in twos, or threes, or fours - making this at once a most ordinary and yet extraordinary achievement for the San Bernardino-based Girl Scout.