Rancho Santa Fe Girl Scouts tops in cookie sales


A 14-year-old Rancho Santa Fe Girl Scout has become the San Diego-Imperial region’s top seller for the third year. Roni Nelson, 13, sold 5,104 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, topping her 2013 sales by more than 500 boxes.

Another 14-year-old, Melissa Thomas, sold the most boxes of cookies for Operation Thin Mint® (OTM), a local program that sends “a taste of home and a note to show we care” to deployed U.S. military troops. Thanks to her, service men and women will receive 3,127 boxes of America’s favorite cookies.

Both girls are members of Troop 1095 of Rancho Santa Fe, led by Julie Thomas, Melissa’s mother.

During the 13th annual Operation Thin Mint® Sendoff celebration, held on May 3 aboard the USS Midway Museum. Roni, Melissa — and 29 other Girl Scouts who sold 2,014 or more boxes in 2014 — took center stage with Congressman Juan Vargas and top military.

This was the 10th consecutive year USS Midway Museum hosted the sendoff, which is open to the public. More than 2,600 revelers gathered on the historic ship’s flight deck as an Uncle Sam on stilts revealed that generous San Diegans are shipping a total of 198,470 boxes of OTM cookies to troops this year. The colorful event also featured skydivers and a Coast Guard helicopter airlifting a pallet of Thin Mints from the Midway to demonstrate how cookies are delivered to some ships.

In addition to Congressman Vargas, speakers included BGen James W. Bierman, Jr. (Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot), RADM Patrick J. Lorge (Commander, Navy Region Southwest), Girl Scouts San Diego’s Board Chair Debbie Rider and Girl Scouts San Diego CEO, Jo Dee C. Jacob. The U.S. Coast Guard, Air Force, Army and National Guard were also represented at the event. Delana Bennett of Star 94.1 emceed the ceremony, which included an all-woman, joint service color guard.

Sendoff attendees had the opportunity to personally thank military troops for their service to the U.S., and to write notes to accompany cookie shipments. Many also contributed to a collection for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank — donating over 100 pounds of groceries.

Wells Fargo was the event’s “Five-Star General” sponsor, with Four-Star General sponsor Cox Communications, USS Midway Museum, Star 94.1 and KOGO also providing key support.

San Diego Girl Scouts began Operation Thin Mint® in 2002 to give deployed U.S. military troops “a taste of home and a note to show we care.” Since then, U.S. Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force and National Guard troops stationed in Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan and Korea, and aboard ships around the globe have received nearly 2.5 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies and countless handwritten notes of support from San Diegans.

Every dollar of cookie proceeds stays local to support Girl Scouting in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Roni is using a portion of her cookie proceeds to fund her Silver Award project, which also focuses on honoring the military. She and Girl Scout Eve Maldonado, 14, dedicate their time and energy to supporting Honor Flight San Diego, a local nonprofit. The girls’ efforts include collecting letters for the World War II veterans Honor Flight brings to Washington, D.C. to visit national veterans memorials. During the flight, the veterans receive the letters, echoing “mail calls” they experienced during the war. The girls recently met two of the recipients, Andre Chappaz and Lt. Col Bob Friend (a Tuskegee Airman), at a “Hero’s Welcome Homecoming” at the San Diego International Airport.

Roni, Eve, Melissa and many other Girl Scouts will participate in the annual Memorial Day flag placement ceremony at Rosecrans National Cemetery.

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