Have you ever pined for a box of Girl Scout cookies but found it just beyond reach because, alas, you didn't have cash?
No worries -- the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana are out to make sure that never happens again.
More than 5,300 girls and their family members attended the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program kickoff Saturday afternoon at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, where the buzz was all about learning to take payment via credit or debit card.
"We always get people who say they don't have cash on them, so now they can't say that anymore," said Brianna Randecker, 16, of Hoffman Estates. "We are the technology generation, so now we get to broaden our cookies sales."
All you need is a smartphone or iPad to which you connect a small device to swipe the cards, Brianna explained.
Customers then get an email, not paper, receipt.
"It's eco-friendly, too," said Madison Korta, 17, of Schaumburg.
Plus, it's much safer than having to carry a load of cash from cookie sales, Samantha McKeown, 16, of Schaumburg, pointed out.
Being a Girl Scout is all about learning valuable, practical skills, said Maria Wynne, CEO of Girl Scouts of Great Chicago and Northwest Indiana, which overall numbers 84,000 girls.
Saturday's event unveiled new cookie packaging that lists the five skills the organization focuses on teaching -- goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.
"The cookie program is about so much more than cookies. You work as a team, you set goals, you learn money management. You develop so many of the skills that successful women entrepreneurs say were crucial to their development," Wynne said.
The annual rally is also a chance to meet fellow Girl Scouts, stay connected to the organization, and of course, check out every one else's badges, said Brianna, who's just 10 hours away from earning the Gold Award, the highest achievement for Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts will be taking pre-orders for their eight brands of cookies Jan. 7-25, and will be selling them in person in March and April.
The organization also wants to recruit more volunteers -- men and women -- to participate in programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Wynne said. For more information, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.