Tribune Print Share Text

Clipping coupons

Neighbors bond over doing good for others

Created date

June 14th, 2018
Jane Cyphers (far right) is one of the organizers of Riderwood’s Coupon Cutters.

Jane Cyphers (far right) is one of the organizers of Riderwood’s Coupon Cutters.

Riderwood offers community members all kinds of opportunities to give back by volunteering. There are volunteers who offer their time inside the community, such as residents who visit their neighbors at the on-site continuing care health services neighborhood. And there are other groups that provide opportunities to help people beyond Riderwood’s entrance gate.

One of the longest-running volunteer activities on campus is the Riderwood Coupon Cutters. Two different groups of residents gather once a week to clip hundreds of coupons from newspapers. The coupons are sent to an American Legion in Greenbelt, Md., which then sends them to military families stationed overseas. The families can use the coupons to buy discounted items at their base’s commissary.

Smooth process

Churalene Bice is one of the organizers of the Coupon Cutters. She and several others collect newspapers for the group to scour for coupons each week. One resident even keeps a basket in her hallway for neighbors to leave their unneeded papers.

The group has to stick to certain guidelines when clipping coupons. They don’t send any coupons for local stores, for instance, because the military families stationed overseas wouldn’t be able to use them. They also have to trim the coupons carefully so there’s no extra weight in the packages, which would increase shipping costs for the American Legion.

Co-organizer Jane Cyphers has been involved with the Coupon Cutters for about 14 years. She says she believes in staying active, which is one of the reasons she moved to Riderwood.

“This is something everyone can do, and we take advantage of every piece of paper,” Jane says. “It feels like you’re doing something worthwhile.”

Jane drives the coupons to the American Legion every few weeks, and she says she typically has “quite a load” to deliver. The Riderwood volunteers are one of many groups around the country that clip coupons for troops. Of course, the Coupon Cutters want to know that military families are benefiting from their efforts—and Jane has made it her business to get that confirmation.

“I have personally flagged down soldiers in uniform, and they say they use the coupons,” Jane says.

The Coupon Cutters have also taken the opportunity to thank members of the armed services more directly.

“One year, we gathered all the Coupon Cutters, and we greeted a plane of soldiers coming back from overseas,” Jane says. “They were happy we were there.”

The Coupon Cutters also gather the coupons that can’t be used by the military and distribute them to fellow residents and staff. For example, they give local restaurant coupons to the dining services employees to be used for what Churalene calls “cheap dates.” And they give coupons for pet food and supplies to residents who have cats and dogs.

“We get a lot of mileage out of those pieces of paper,” Jane says.

Over the years, the Coupon Cutters has grown from four or five volunteers to a group of 20 to 25 people who regularly gather to pitch in. Churalene says it’s a nice volunteer activity because it’s not physically taxing, it’s right on campus, and anyone can do it.

And, of course, coming together on a weekly basis gives the volunteers a perfect opportunity to form strong bonds. Churalene says there is now an entire table full of Japanese residents and another of German residents who speak in their native languages while clipping coupons.

“It’s wonderful fellowship,” Churalene says. “I have met some of my closest friends through the group.”