Giving back to the community is in every Girl Scout’s DNA, which is why Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s Gift of Caring program is such a success. This year, more than 14,600 girls donated one or more boxes of the iconic Girl Scout Cookies for a total of 199,780 packages of Gift of Caring boxes sold, exceeding the goal of 160,000 boxes.

“Gift of Caring donations provide twice the benefits with one simple purchase,” said Carl Canale, director of product program for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

“Girls learn life skills, local Girl Scout troops find their activities, community organizations benefit from the program, and the women and men serving in the armed forces get a great tasting reminder of home,” said Susan Rakis, who is also a director of product program for GSGCNWI.

Last year, nearly 153,700 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies were donated to military personnel through the council’s Gift of Caring program, which sends cookies to organizations that bring comfort to women and men serving in the armed forces. Some of those organizations include the Illinois National Guard, Manteno Veterans’ Home and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

“We get thank-you cards and letters and everything from these guys who receive Girl Scout Cookies,” said Linda Krone, a member of Johnson-Phelps VFW Post #5220 in Oak Lawn, Illinois. “The program works out really well and we get a lot of help from the girls.”

The program is especially important to Giada Gambatese, an 8-year-old Girl Scout Brownie who is GSGCNWI’s top cookie seller with more than 13,000 boxes sold, 12,000 of which benefited Gift of Caring.

“It’s important because we care about soldiers,” Giada, whose grandfather was in the Marines, explained.

Nina Grotto, a 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador, is also passionate Gift of Caring.

“My father and both of my grandfathers are veterans, so it was really important to me to participate in Gift of Caring on a personal level,” Nina said.

Nearly 40,000 Girl Scouts sold 4.6 million packages of cookies in greater Chicago and northwest Indiana during the 2016 Girl Scout Cookie Program. Next year marks the centennial celebration of the Girl Scout Cookie.

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