At age 14, Girl Scout Senior Roni Nelson of Rancho Santa Fe is the same age as the event where she continually shines. Roni — Girl Scouts San Diego’s No. 1 cookie seller for the fourth year in a row — recently took center stage aboard the USS Midway Museum during Girl Scouts’ 14th annual Operation Thin Mint Sendoff.
The celebration showcases Girl Scouts San Diego’s OTM program, through which generous cookie customers “send a taste of home and a note to show we care” to deployed service men and women.
Roni, who is a member of Troop 1095, sold 3,280 boxes this year, with 634 donated to Operation Thin Mint. During the cookie season, the savvy cookie boss mentored Girl Scout Brownie Zoey Ronco, of Troop 1814, who sold 2,148 boxes (551 for OTM). Roni and Zoey were among only 20 Girl Scouts who reached the goal of 2,015 or more boxes in 2015. This is 9-year-old Zoey’s first year hitting that mark — and Roni’s sixth.
The top sellers arrived and departed the Sendoff by helicopter as a special tribute to their contributions.
All proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program stay local to fund Girl Scouting activities, such as camp, group trips, career development experiences and community service activities. Roni often donates her cookie earnings and her time to organizations serving the military, including Honor Flight San Diego.
At this year’s Sendoff, San Diegans celebrated sending the 2.5 millionth box of cookies to U.S. military troops. Festivities began on the flight deck, which featured vintage aircraft displays and canine ambassadors for Freedom Dogs, a nonprofit serving wounded troops.
Attendees had the opportunity to personally thank members of the armed forces for serving their country — and to write notes of support for deployed troops receiving cookies through OTM. Participants also donated nonperishable groceries to The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, which held a food drive that morning.
OTM Sendoff guests included Girl Scouts taking part in a sleepover aboard the historic ship, which recently marked its 70th anniversary. Girls bunked below deck to get a taste of Navy life. While exploring the world-class carrier, they learned about the nearly all-women crew who built the ship.