Several community members and organizations have taken up coupon clipping recently. They're not trying to get onto the TLC reality show, "Extreme Couponing." Actually, the volunteers cut up their Sunday newspaper inserts in order to save money for those who protect our freedom.
Called the Military Coupon Program, organizers and volunteers have managed to ship 538,118 coupons to soldiers overseas in 10 military bases since August 2010.
"The Lakewood-Busti Golden Agers started this program once it had been determined that there was a need for our military troops stationed overseas and that they were able to use manufacturers' coupons in the facilities that were there," said Richard Anderson, the program's coordinator. "The manufacturers' have extended the due dates on the coupons for an additional six months for our troops overseas."
Residents and employees of Heritage Park Rehab and Skilled Nursing participate in the Military Coupon Program, which sends manufacturers’ coupons to American soldiers overseas. From left, Alicia DePonceau, Susan Norman, Connie Macha, Agnes Murphy and Karen Price all support the program.
Efficiently shipping the coupons overseas became the first priority for Anderson and the other volunteers. "We moved towards finding a way that we could get the coupons to the military in the cheapest way," he said. The program uses the USPS "if it fits, it ships" policy at a total cost of $12.09 for every box shipped, according to Anderson. "We send boxes of coupons to six Air Force bases in England, three Army garrisons in Germany and one Marine Corps air station in Japan."
Getting involved in the program can be as simple as dropping off Sunday newspaper inserts at the American Legions in Celoron or Lakewood. "Each week, there's a number of coupons that are dropped off and prepared for us that we send off," Anderson said. "We have contacts at all of the bases we are sending them to. We know they are being used."
Cummins, The Resource Center, Southwestern Central School and several area senior organizations have gotten involved in the Military Coupon Program.
The Lakewood Memorial Auxiliary Post 1286 joined the cause as well. "I've got 10 people clipping for me now on an average of six hours per week per person," said Joyce Kellogg, committee chairwoman. "It's really important what our men and women overseas are doing to keep us free, and we're now able to help them."
Ms. Kellogg believes someone should have come up with this idea sooner. "In my mind, we should've been doing this for years. How many of these coupons were just thrown away by families? Now, there's an avenue to get them in use," she said. "I'm proud to be a part of it. It's a definite service."
The residents of Heritage Park Rehab and Skilled Nursing have been clipping coupons for American soldiers since May 2011. "This worthwhile cause has given the residents a great sense of purpose and pride as well as an increased feeling of patriotism as they gather together to do this work," said Alicia DePonceau, assistant director of activities. "The residents can now look forward to the letters they receive regularly from these brave young men and women, thanking them for their support."
"There have been numerous letters that have come in from people overseas that have thanked us," Anderson added. "There's a lot to be said about the effort that was put forth here in the community by all of the senior organizations and the VFW over in Bemus Point."
Nancy Wells of Busti has also joined the coupon clippers. "I'm retired, and I didn't have any hobbies," she said. "I get some of the coupons from the Sunday paper and Richard brings me some. I clip them, then I drop them off at Celoron Legion. I definitely keep busy with it."
Theresa Perrin, life enrichment director at Emeritus Assisted Living, thinks so many people have started clipping for the cause because of how easy it is to get involved. "It makes people feel good to help out with something like this, and it doesn't cost them any money to do it," she said.
Anderson said he and his fellow organizers would like to have even more volunteers participating in the program. To become involved, contact the Lakewood-Busti Golden Agers via mail at P.O. Box 275, Lakewood, NY 14750-0275.