Guest post by Kelly from Fru-Gal
I have been couponing for a little over two years now and it has become a complete way of life for me and my family. Not only does it save us hundreds of dollars a year on our grocery, drugstore, and clothing budgets, but it has enabled us to give abundantly to people in need on a regular basis!
The relative ease in acquiring free products through couponing, playing the “drugstore game,” taking advantage of daily deal sites, and signing up for freebies quickly replenishes my stockpile each month. Therefore, I have become more creative and proficient in how I use these freebies to bless others in times of natural disaster or personal crisis:
1. Disaster Relief Boxes
Natural disasters are a continuous reality in our fallen world. We’ve seen this clearly over the past year with the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and Joplin, the unbelievable tsunami in Japan, and flooding in Minot and most recently the Northeast. Monetary donations are always very helpful during these disasters, but personally, I have been able to give more and more frequently through donating actual needed items from my stockpile.
After a natural disaster, I research online for organizations accepting items and try to specifically donate what they are asking for. Usually, these items include nonperishable food, diapers and other baby products, feminine care products, toiletries, and new clothing. I usually have an adequate supply of these items from my couponing and can quickly pack and send a box to these disaster areas throughout our country.
2. Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes
Operation Christmas Child is one of my favorite ministries. I love the impact of this ministry on children all over the world, and personally know adults who received a life changing shoe box as a child.
It’s rather easy to fill a shoe box with quality items I can get for free or nearly free by couponing. These include toothbrushes and toothpaste, toys, socks, hats, school supplies, hard candy, and much more.
Personally, my goal for 2011 is to fill 10 shoe boxes for $10 total. I have already succeeded in this goal and I’m currently working on my eleventh box. For a thorough list of items that can be included in an OCC shoe box, please see these gift ideas.
3. Voice of the Martyrs Action Packs
Voice of the Martyrs sends “Action Packs” to families of martyrs who are struggling in restricted nations such as Pakistan, Iraq, and the Sudan. They have a specific list of items needed for each country which includes pens, bar soap, blankets, towels, writing pads, flip flops, colored pencils, and more.
For more information on how to send an Action Pack, visit the VOM site.
4. Homeless Blessing Bags
A Blessing Bag is an easy way to help a homeless person when you drive by them at a busy intersection. Simply put essential items in a gallon Ziploc bag and keep your Blessing Bag in your car.
The next time you see a homeless person asking for help, you will already be prepared to bless them. Potential items to include can be: chap stick, small packages of tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouthwash, combs, bar soap, snacks, socks, a note of encouragement, and a list of community resources.
5. Humane Society Donations
Due to my husband’s allergies, we don’t own a pet, but I can still accumulate free pet supplies every few months. Since I don’t need these freebies, I save and then send them to Humane Societies in natural disaster locations. Every little bit helps when shelters become overloaded from displaced pets.
These are just some of the ways I have found to bless people out of the abundance I have through frugal shopping. So next time you sign up for freebies or get free items at the store through couponing, take a second look at these items and see if you can donate them instead. I’m a stay at home mom and our family lives on one income, but I still have enough margin to give when I can get many items for free on a weekly basis.
Kelly is a wife and stay at home mom to a very active one year old. Her blog, Fru-Gal.org, is focused on frugal living to allow for more generous giving to people in need. She is an avid supporter of Operation Christmas Child, Voice of the Martyrs, and Gospel for Asia, and she supplies Disaster Relief Boxes to areas in the U.S. that have been struck by natural disasters using items she has gotten for free.