24/7 MOMS

Thursday, May 26, 2011

“Coupons for our Community” Near You

Amy Hannold, 
247Moms Frugal Living Editor
Couponing, in my community, has become a twice-weekly social event.  Back in September of 2010, two people went searching for a coupon club in our area.  Not finding one, they received permission from a local grocery manager to invite couponers to meet.  At that first meeting, a volunteer from a local food bank wowed us with how she leads an effort to save the food bank 75-percent on their grocery staples.  It was then that “Coupons for Our Community” was started, to provide coupons to both families and local food banks.
Couponing, for the new and the experienced, 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, are solved with “Coupons for Our Community” We provide the coupon inserts, grocery list/meal planners and extra arms to hold the babies  We also help to remove the “dumpster diving” connotation from couponing; coupon inserts are provided to couponers, no hip boots required.
How Do We Do It?:  As with any event, you have to take care of the “5 W’s and H”.  Begin with a friend or two, and network through your circles to find those who can help make this happen. 
Why?:  Sharing money-saving tools and camaraderie are the initial rewards.  There are long-term advantages, as we watch youngsters clip coupons or learn to form a grocery list.   Military wives find a new community through their participation, which feels like a home away from home to them. We’re helping to “cut out hunger” today, and help families eat better (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 a potential partner, as the club can be an advertising place for local businesses. 
When:  Time and day of your meetings may change at first, as you learn the preferences of your guests.  Our club currently meets one weeknight at the grocery store, one weekday morning 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 and in-person.  This is also the time to begin finding sources of coupon inserts.  Contact retirement communities, senior centers, with information on the coupon insert donation project.  Your flyer can be a combination of advertising for members and on side two, explaining the program.  Once you’re established, you can invite local media to profile the group and its mission.
What:  Basic supplies for your meetings include several pairs of scissors, paperclips, envelopes, copies of a grocery list and/or menu planner, crayons and coloring books (or other kid occupation tools), large index card boxes with dividers for guests to donate clipped coupons, recycling bin, garbage can, a club notebook for guest registration, and coupon insert storage boxes.  At our club, we also supply guests with a “Good Deal Alert” list featuring one partnering grocery store.  This is found on a local money-saving blogger’s website and copies of it are made at the grocery store.  A link to the “Good Deal Alert” is also broadcast in the weekly email, giving credit to the blogger and the opportunity for guests to use the link for printable coupons. 
Optional club features include: select advertising from local businesses, non-insert coupons, freebies, welcome folders with basic couponing tips, etc.    Creating a weekly newsletter page (featuring club 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 those with interest in “Coupons for Our Community”, of the project’s activities. A laptop 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 to other guests and to what the club has to offer.  The host(s) and/or coordinator is available to answer questions from guests and to ensure all are finding what they need.  At closing time, supplies are returned to their travel boxes and the room returned to its previous condition. 
Coupon clubs and “Coupons for Our Community” projects will vary by the interests and communities they serve.  There is unlimited potential for communities to positively impact families. 

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