“Coupons for our Community” Near You

Amy Hannold, 
247Moms FrugalLiving Editor
Couponing, in my community, hasbecome a twice-weekly social event. Back in September of 2010, two people went searching for a coupon clubin our area.  Not finding one, theyreceived permission from a local grocery manager to invite couponers tomeet.  At that first meeting, avolunteer from a local food bank wowed us with how she leads an effort to savethe food bank 75-percent on their grocery staples.  It was then that “Coupons for Our Community” was started, toprovide coupons to both families and local food banks.
Couponing, for the new and theexperienced, is often limited by common obstacles.  Families do not have access to multiple coupon inserts.  The presence of children and a lack of“life-organization”, including little time left to devote to couponing, aresolved with “Coupons for Our Community” We provide the coupon inserts, grocerylist/meal planners and extra arms to hold the babies  We also help to remove the “dumpster diving” connotationfrom couponing; coupon inserts are provided to couponers, no hip bootsrequired.
How Do We Do It?:  As with any event, you have to takecare of the “5 W’s and H”.  Beginwith a friend or two, and network through your circles to find those who canhelp make this happen. 
Why?:  Sharing money-saving tools and camaraderie are the initialrewards.  There are long-termadvantages, as we watch youngsters clip coupons or learn to form a grocerylist.   Military wives find anew community through their participation, which feels like a home away fromhome to them. We’re helping to “cut out hunger” today, and help families eatbetter (and more affordably) in the future.
Where:  Libraries, schools, community centers,restaurants – or perhaps a local grocery store are options.  Your local chamber of commerce is apotential partner, as the club can be an advertising place for localbusinesses. 
When:  Time and day of your meetings may change at first, as you learnthe preferences of your guests. Our club currently meets one weeknight at the grocery store, one weekdaymorning at the chamber of commerce and one Saturday morning a month. 
Who:  Once you have location, you can begin advertising.  Post where couponers are, online andin-person.  This is also the timeto begin finding sources of coupon inserts.  Contact retirement communities, senior centers, withinformation on the coupon insert donation project.  Your flyer can be a combination of advertising for membersand on side two, explaining the program. Once you’re established, you can invite local media to profile the groupand its mission.
What:  Basic supplies for your meetings include several pairs of scissors,paperclips, envelopes, copies of a grocery list and/or menu planner, crayonsand coloring books (or other kid occupation tools), large index card boxes withdividers for guests to donate clipped coupons, recycling bin, garbage can, aclub notebook for guest registration, and coupon insert storage boxes.  At our club, we also supply guests witha “Good Deal Alert” list featuring one partnering grocery store.  This is found on a local money-savingblogger’s website and copies of it are made at the grocery store.  A link to the “Good Deal Alert” is alsobroadcast in the weekly email, giving credit to the blogger and the opportunityfor guests to use the link for printable coupons. 
Optional club features include:select advertising from local businesses, non-insert coupons, freebies, welcomefolders with basic couponing tips, etc.    Creating a weekly newsletter page (featuringclub information, an online/in-store freebie link, local event information,garage sale listings, business promotions, etc.) is also a fun idea.  A weekly email updates guests and thosewith interest in “Coupons for Our Community”, of the project’s activities. Alaptop with internet access can be helpful for using online coupon databases –a great tool for matching grocery lists to available coupons.
At the Meetings:  Arrange your tools and features.  Guests are welcomed, introduced toother guests and to what the club has to offer.  The host(s) and/or coordinator is available to answerquestions from guests and to ensure all are finding what they need.  At closing time, supplies are returnedto their travel boxes and the room returned to its previous condition. 
Coupon clubs and “Coupons forOur Community” projects will vary by the interests and communities theyserve.  There is unlimitedpotential for communities to positively impact families. 

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