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Attitude of gratitude

Oak Crest coupon clippers send savings overseas

Created date

July 6th, 2015
Oak Crest residents
Oak Crest residents

The average family of four living in America spends roughly between $130 and $297 each week on groceries, according to a March 2015 report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But those numbers increase considerably for military families serving overseas where the U.S. dollar doesn’t go as far as it does here at home. 

That’s why Support Our Troops, a 501(c)(3) charity created Troopons, a coupon collection program that collects both active and expired (up to two months) food, non-food, baby, and pet manufacturer coupons to help overseas and domestic military families save money.

Volunteers from across the U.S., like Mary Lou Hill, gather and clip coupons for everything from shampoo to cereal to send to military bases for families stationed around the world. 

“I collect coupons and get together once a month with a group here at Oak Crest who clip and sort the coupons to send off,” says Mary Lou, who moved to the Parkville, Md., Erickson Living community two years ago. “It’s a nice time to get together and chat while we do something worthwhile.”

Oak Crest is home to nearly 140 retired veterans. The newly formed coupon clipping group attracts both men and women who want to help. 

“Military families sacrifice so much for all of us,” says Oak Crest Volunteer Programs Coordinator Ann Marie Riehl, whose brother served overseas in the Army. “Everything costs more overseas. Our time spent clipping and sorting coupons is just a small way we can show our appreciation and how much we care.” 

A penny saved

Troopon’s website shows the return rate for every U.S. dollar in England is just 66 cents; Germany, 76 cents; and Japan, 90 cents, underlining how every dime saved can really add up.  

Riehl borrowed the idea for the Oak Crest coupon clipping group from sister community Greenspring located in Springfield, Va. “It’s only been a few months since the group formally started, and so far it’s really been a hit,” she says. 

Although still in its infancy, the group averages about 500 coupons each month, a number Riehl hopes will increase exponentially as word gets out. 

“Our goal is to mail a batch of coupons each month,” says Riehl. “I would like to identify a specific military base that we could commit to if any of our residents have a connection to one.”

Oak Crest resident Richard Albright, a World War II veteran, and his wife Josie are part of the coupon clipping group. “It’s an easy way to do something to support our troops,” says Richard. “Who doesn’t love to save money? We hope others will join us. The more the merrier!”

Power of one

Oak Crest residents aren’t the only ones who want to help. When it comes to saving money, Brittany Shenk, a household associate at Oak Crest, does more than her fair share.

“I have been couponing for over a year now,” says Shenk, whose brother serves in the Army National Guard. “I belong to a coupon group on Facebook. As a result, I’ve learned how to get great deals and even some freebies. One day I thought, ‘Why not use these coupons to help those in need?’ So I began collecting coupons and stockpiling items to donate to different organizations.” 

Shenk has donated to various charities throughout Maryland, including Tabitha’s House in Fallston, Harford Family House in Aberdeen, Best Friends Fur Ever Doggie Daycare in Joppa, St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Police and Fire Departments during the recent Baltimore riots. She also sponsors two military families overseas through Coups for Troops. 

“I keep in touch with them via emails and ask them what specific items they want coupons for,” says Shenk. “One family requests coupons for a specific diaper brand for their three small children. Diapers are expensive on base, and the coupons help defray some of the costs on their tight budget. The families abroad are unable to get coupons like we do here in the states so they are always appreciative. It feels good to be able to help. It’s my way of thanking them for their sacrifice and service.”

To help support military families overseas by clipping coupons, visit supportourtroops.org. Click on “Programs” to find out how you can get started. Shenk also recommends visiting coupsfortroops.com to send coupons or sponsor a military family.

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