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Clipping for the troops

Army of volunteers aims for one million coupons within year

Created date

November 22nd, 2011

The entertaining TLC show Extreme Couponing profiles fanatical shoppers who clip piles of coupons each week, sometimes dwindling grocery bills that would have been hundreds of dollars down to just pennies. Like the show s so-called extreme couponers, a group of Michigan retirees clip hundreds of coupons every week. But instead of helping their own pocket books, they send them overseas for use by active-duty soldiers. Gerald Moore, program director for AMVETS Post 27, in Warren, Mich., has been organizing groups of volunteers to help U.S. troops for many years. He previously coordinated the shipment of hundreds of decks of used playing cards donated by casinos. Moore would collect the cards and dispatch them to several area retirement communities, where community members would sort them into full decks.

From cards to coupons

When the casinos slowed down their donations of used playing cards last year, Moore wanted to find a new way to utilize his army of volunteers. Instead of sorting cards, he asked local retirees to start clipping coupons to be shipped all over the world to commissaries on U.S. military bases. People who live at Fox Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich., answered the call of duty. Moore says he was hopeful the Fox Run volunteers would produce about 5,000 coupons in their first month. They collected, clipped, and bundled 40,000 coupons that month. I couldn t believe it, Moore says of his Fox Run volunteers. They are doing it perfectly. It s such a great bunch of people out there. One coupon volunteer, Lucille Hubbard, had previously volunteered to sort playing cards for AMVETS and was happy to take on the new task of clipping coupons. Lucille says about 15 of her Fox Run neighbors join her every Thursday to sort and stack the coupons they ve collected. Many other residents pitch in by donating their Sunday newspapers with coupon inserts or clipping coupons at home and dropping them off to the volunteers. There are a lot of people contributing in many different ways, Lucille says. Residents credit their maintenance-free lifestyle at Fox Run with being able to do all the things they enjoy. Based on the volume of coupons being clipped by the Fox Run residents and other volunteers, Gerald has set a goal to ship one million coupons to U.S. troops within a year. It s an awesome challenge, he says. We re still ramping up, but we will get there. Active duty service members are able to use manufacturer coupons for six months after the expiration date, Gerald says. So the coupons enable deserving service men and women to buy products they need at discounted prices. Gerald says he s already received many thank you letters from the directors of the commissaries where he s sending the coupons. For Fox Run residents like Lucille, clipping coupons for the troops is an ideal way to demonstrate her patriotism. With more than 900 people living at the community, there are plenty of newspapers available at Fox Run, and clipping and organizing the coupons provides an opportunity for residents to work together on a meaningful project. There are troops all over the world. They are in places you wouldn t even think of, and they can use these coupons, Lucille says. This is something that I can do and enjoy.