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Girl Scout cookie fundraiser tonight

NATCHEZ — For those who love to sink their teeth into a delicious Girl Scout cookie, local chefs have invented new ways to taste those sweet treats for a good cause.

This evening, Valentine’s Day can be celebrated early beginning at 6 p.m. today at a cookie cook-off that benefits the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi, said Communications Director Mary Brinson.

The benefit, called “More Than S’Mores,” begins at 6 p.m. this evening at Elms Court at 542 John R. Junkin Drive, the childhood home of lifelong Girl Scout Grace MacNeil.

“(MacNeil) was, from 1969 to 1972, the national president of Girl Scouts of the USA,” Brinson said. “She has three things that she focused on during her life-long commitment to the Girl Scouts and especially as the national board president. She raised the membership as high as it has ever been and focused on the integration of the Girl Scouts … and she focused on environmental programs — which is a tradition we carry on today.”

Tickets are $40 each or $75 for couples with all proceeds going to the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi.

“It’s a benefit for the Girl Scouts. We have about 10,000 Girl Scouts in the greater Mississippi area. … About 2,000 of those we have identified as being in an economically depressed area,” Brinson said. “Those families are not able to participate in Girl Scouts, so we have a program called ‘In-school Girl Scouts.’ We take — with our paid staff — a full Girl Scout experience to these girls in school, including the opportunity to spend a week at camp. … They participate at no charge based on the money that we raise during different fundraising events like More Than S’Mores.”

Brinson said local bakers will make deserts from Girl Scout cookies, including Suzanna Johnson Sharp and her students of the Culinary Arts Technology program at Copiah Lincoln Community College, Jarita Frazier-King of Natchez Heritage School of Cooking, Chef KP Pearson of Magnolia Bluffs Casino, Yolanda Morgan of Morgan’s Catering, and Hannah-Grace Hinkle of Rolling ‘N’ the Dough.

“We have supplied them all, not with recipes, but with Girl Scout cookies to make their desserts from and just said be as creative as you want,” Brinson said. “The judge’s rubric is based on the visual appeal, can you tell which Girl Scout Cookies they were made from, are they delicious and an award will go out to one of those chefs.”

Local celebrity judges — including longtime troop leader Frances Bailey; Alderwoman Felicia Irving; Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell; Visit Natchez Executive Director Jennifer Ogden-Combs; and The Natchez Democrat General Manager Jan Griffey — will first taste the treats blindly before the dining hall doors open to reveal each chef with their creations, Brinson said.

Attendees will be able to sample from platters with a glass of wine, coffee or other beverages.

Advance tickets are available at www.gsgms.org.