STOW — Students at the Stow-Munroe Falls Schools receiving Bulldog Bags received a sweet treat among the food provided, courtesy of a local Girl Scout Troop.

The fourth grade Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 91450 sold 316 boxes of Girl Scout cookies through booths the girls scheduled in March, with the idea of donating the cookies to Bulldog Bags.

"These young leaders worked very hard this past winter and into the spring, collecting donated boxes of cookies to give to this worthy cause," said Elizabeth Yates, the troop leader. "It is one thing to sell cookies to the general public, but it is a whole different ballgame to ask people to donate them at $5 per box. Out of the 2,939 boxes of cookies the troop sold this year, 316 boxes were collected exclusively for the Bulldog Bags. They were able to collect around 16 boxes of cookies upfront from their individual sales in January. Then they held 15 cookie booths in March, in Stow and the surrounding area, to enable them to collect the remaining 300 boxes.

"Let’s just say that March was a very busy month for our troop," Yates added.

The troop had been aiming to sell 600 boxes, but were able to use some Girl Scout ingenuity to make sure every one of the bags had some cookies, Yates said.

"While we were unable to meet our goal of 600 boxes, the troop got creative and figured that most of the boxes had two individually wrapped sleeves of cookies," Yates said. "By working with the wonderful women who run the Bulldog Bags, our troop worked to open a couple hundred boxes of cookies, put each sleeve of cookies into a quart-sized storage bag, insert the appropriate nutrition label, adhere another label to the outside of the bag, seal and then pack them for transportation to City Hall. It took them several hours last week, on their day off from school, to accomplish this not-so-small feat. By doing this, we were able to stretch the number of cookies collected to get much closer to our goal."

It worked: Bulldog Bag volunteers, which included the Girl Scout Troop, packed 542 bags for students facing food insecurity attending the Stow-Munroe Falls schools. After all the bags were packed, there was one sleeve of Thin Mints left over.

Troop 91450, which includes 12 girls from Fishcreek Elementary and one girl from Riverview Elementary, helped pack the bags of food April 26. The packing was the culmination of a four-month long community service project with Bulldog Bags.

"I am so proud of what these young ladies have accomplished and wanted to share with you a little about their project and to try to express just how hard they have worked," Yates said. "It means a lot these days to have children who participate in their community to make it a better place. These kids are working at making a difference."

Several of the girls in the troop shared their experience in selling the boxes for Bulldog Bags.

"One guy, he only had a really big bill," said Rileigh Costello, 10. "He donated three boxes."

Mackenzie Yates, 9, said one man asked for the girls to deliver boxes of cookies to Stow-Glen Retirement Village, which they were able to do. He donated $100, she said.

"One time, we were doing a cookie booth, and this lady bought five boxes to donate," said Giana LaForge, 9. "She didn’t buy any for herself."

Annamarie Maghes, 9, said she liked how many people participate in Bulldog Bags and pitched in to help others.

"A lot of people came together to help the community," she said.

Caelyn Morrison, 10, agreed.

"There’s people of different ages who like to come together to help the community," Caelyn said. "I thought it was a good idea. There was so much stuff to pick from."

Lucy Clements, 10, said "a lot of people like to donate to Bulldog Bags."

Elizabeth Yates said the girls next year would be working on their Bronze Award, and were thinking of incorporating further work with the Bulldog Bags Inc. as a part of earning this award.

Twice a month, volunteers with Bulldog Bags fill and deliver bags of food, each with 10 to 12 items such as canned fruit, snacks, breakfast items and personal care items, according to information from the organization. These are delivered to students participating in the federal free and reduced school meals on Fridays to help combat food insecurity during the weekends.

The organization, starting last year, also provided Bulldog Boxes during the summer months. Once a month, registered families can pick up a box of food once a month in June, July and August. Ninety-eight families received assistance last year.

Registration for Bulldog Boxes is open; for details, visit www.bulldogbags.org online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC