Help Military Families
Wait! Before you toss those expired coupons, read this.
Did you know that military families overseas can still use coupons that have expired, for six months after the stated expiration date?
In fact, there's an organization that was created just to promote and support this program for expired coupons. It's called the "Overseas Coupon Program." They coordinate groups who want to send coupons, and recommend that you form a group and adopt a specific base overseas to send your coupons to. You can find all sorts of useful details on their site, including a list of the bases with the greatest need for coupons.
This would be a great project for your school or church group. It costs you nothing, except a little time and postage, and expired coupons that are useless to you can still help a military family stretch their budget a little farther.
What a great idea for a classroom or school project, to teach youngsters the rewards of giving, donating their time to help others, and supporting our military families all at the same time.
Even grade school children could participate in this project. It would help them learn how great it feels to help someone else, give them pride in making a contribution of their time to serve others, and teach them to be grateful for the sacrifices being made by our military families on a daily basis so they can safely attend school and learn. It's such a simple privilege to us (considered a basic right in our country), yet it is currently denied to many people in the world, and one that our military is helping to restore or grant to the very first time for some segments of the population in various countries around the world.
So, here are the facts you need to know:
- What types of expired coupons are accepted?
Manufacturers' coupons for almost any type of merchandise sold in military exchanges and commissaries qualify for this program.
- cleaning supplies
- personal grooming products
- pet food and other products
- almost anything else a manufacturer prints coupons for!
- Is there a minimum number of coupons or minimum dollar value per shipment?
No. Any number of coupons in any dollar amount is welcome. Obviously, it would save on mailing cost if you sent a larger batch at one time, but don't hold them for a month waiting for more!
In most large cities, there may be more than $100 in coupons in every Sunday paper and all its inserts. Sale days are good for coupon inserts, too. Watch for Christmas ads, especially toy coupons for kids' Christmas gifts! (But those will need to go in the mail right away to get there in time to be used, or you can use them yourself and donate the toy you bought to the Marine Corps' local Toys for Tots program in your area.)
- What expiration dates are best?
Obviously, unexpired coupons are appreciated, too, but if you're sending expired coupons, it is best to send them within two months of their expiration dates. If they are sent by parcel post (the cheapest way), it sometimes takes them a while to reach their destination. Sending expired coupons that are still within two months of their expiration dates gives service members and their families overseas the best chance to utilize them.
- How do I prepare the coupons before shipping?
You'll want to clip the coupons (that'll save you postage, too), and sort them into two categories:
Then put them into two separate baggies or envelopes, and label the outside of the baggie or envelope to say "food" or "non-food." (Permanent felt tip markers are usually the best to label baggies.)
OCP recommends that you not use rubber bands, paper clips, and similar methods of keeping the coupons sorted as they are likely to come apart in shipping.
- What is considered "non-food"?
Well, it might be obvious to you, but not so obvious to someone else. Non-food would be considered anything that could not (or should not) be eaten by humans. So pet food, for example, would fall into the non-food category, even though you might be able to buy it at the commissary.
Nevermind the (true) story about the Christmas party at the CO's house where one of the officers ate almost an entire bowl of cat food he saw on the kitchen counter and told the CO's wife what great dip it was (she was mortified, and he'd had enough to drink that he didn't care)!
- How are the coupons distributed?
When the expired coupons are received at a base overseas, volunteers there sort through them and place them on tables at the entrance to the exchange and commissary so that shoppers can choose the ones they'd like to use before they begin their shopping.
If you have any other questions regarding this program, please check out the "Overseas Coupon Program".
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