Every day for six weeks, sisters Briana and Hannah Jensen hit the streets of Fresno for hours pulling a wagon full of Girl Scout Cookies on a quest for glory.
They sold more boxes of cookies than any other Girl Scout throughout the Southern San Joaquin Valley this year – 5,500 boxes, to be exact – and they did it without leaving each other behind.
Either sister could have easily sold more cookies than the other, but they vowed not to let that happen. The girls evenly divided their cookies each day and helped the other finish selling whatever was left.
Their sisterhood led to sweet shared success. Each sold 2,750 boxes of cookies, making them the first sisters to tie as top cookie sellers in the Valley, said Jordan King, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of Central California South, which serves girls in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Tulare and Kern counties.
"Because we are close sisters … it's not fair that one of us is higher than the other," said Briana, 12, the eldest.
Their mother, Debbie Jensen, bought their remaining two boxes on the final day of sales, March 18.
"They are overachievers," Debbie Jensen said. "They are courageous. They have overcome a lot of obstacles in life and through all of that, they have persevered and become lovely ladies. … They were foster children and they were adopted at ages 3 and a half and 5."
The sisters really love each other.
"My sister is very caring and she helps me with a lot of things besides selling cookies," 10-year-old Hannah said. "When I was having trouble selling cookies, she would help me out. She really encourages me a lot in a lot of things."
The girls sold their cookies in front of stores and going door-to-door. The locations are "kind of a secret to our sales," Briana says. They sold cookies, on average, eight hours Saturday and Sunday, and two to three hours after school on weekdays.
The sisters started selling Feb. 4: Super Bowl Sunday. Hungry adults at Super Bowl parties are always good customers, the girls noted.
Girl Scout council records show this is the first year in recent history that the top three Valley sellers are from Fresno County.
Miranda Deis, 13, placed second behind the sisters, selling 2,600 boxes of cookies.
Miranda took some orders online through Instagram and Smart Cookies but also isn't shy about hitting the streets. She's been leading monthly two-hour tours of her downtown Fresno community since the fall for a Girl Scout Silver Award project.
"It's to change people's perspectives," Miranda says. "Some wouldn't come downtown because parents would say it's unsafe."
Her next tour departs at 10 a.m. April 28 from a Native American statue at Fulton and Inyo streets. The tours are free, but she accepts donations.
Miranda, Briana and Hannah also accepted donations to send cookies to U.S. military and veterans groups through a "troop to troop" program. Miranda donated 180 boxes and the Jensen sisters donated 20 boxes.
Selling cookies to a Vietnam War veteran was a favorite moment for Briana. The man wasn't interested in buying any at first, but that changed after Briana thanked him for his service. She had noticed his veteran's cap and an American Flag in his window.
Briana said she left the veteran's home with a "warm" feeling in her heart and feeling proud that she thanked him.
As a reward for cookie-selling success, the girls were invited on a trip by the regional Girl Scout council to Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Briana and Hannah will also tour the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego.
The girls say selling cookies has taught them a lot about courtesy and determination.
"I like selling cookies because it helps me be a better person," Hannah says, "and courageous and brave and strong. It helps the community."