Expired and unwanted coupons help military families

Expired and unwanted coupons help military families based overseas

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"I want him to understand there are people out there that need help. I want him to know there are military families not only serving our country but their families are serving our country by sacrificing," mom Angela Fischesser said of her son. "I want him to understand there are people out there that need help. I want him to know there are military families not only serving our country but their families are serving our country by sacrificing," mom Angela Fischesser said of her son.
"It's an easy way for us to send them thousands of dollars for their grocery bills without sending them thousands of dollars," Theresa Kropanik said. "It's an easy way for us to send them thousands of dollars for their grocery bills without sending them thousands of dollars," Theresa Kropanik said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Clip. Sort. Save. It's a method Staff Sgt. Rita Thomas has been following for years to save money.

"I saw that show ‘Extreme Couponing' and I thought, well, I could do that on a normal level," Thomas explained.

But when her friend and fellow couponer, Theresa Kropanik, told her there was a way her expired or unwanted coupons could help military families, their mission to save became a mission to help.

"It's an easy way for us to send them thousands of dollars for their grocery bills without sending them thousands of dollars," Kropanik said.

Here's how it works. Military families can use manufacturer coupons for up to six months past their expiration date on bases overseas

There are dozens of organizations across the country that help get the coupons from your recycling bin to the men and women serving our country.

Organizations like AnySoldier.com, Coupons to Troops, and Troopons send these coupons to military families all over the world.

"I used to get so frustrated when I collected coupons because so many expired before I could use them and I just felt so wasteful," Thomas said.

Staff Sgt. Thomas served as a cryptologist linguist for the United States Air Force. She raised her family on a base in Germany and knows first hand the challenges.  

"You've got a family and little ones and you're trying to buy diapers, it gets to be really overwhelming," she said.

That's where her massive coupon binder comes in.

"Everything from baby, grocery food, hygiene and just about any coupon that is a manufacturer coupon will be accepted on almost any base," Kropanik explains.

Each month they send more than 2,500 coupons to bases around the world.

For Angela Fischesser, it's a family affair as she helps her four-year-old son Lucas decorate cards for a military family based in Japan.

"I want him to understand there are people out there that need help. I want him to know there are military families not only serving our country but their families are serving our country by sacrificing," Fischesser said.

Fischesser's father was in the Navy and now she honors him by helping out families overseas.

"Right now were sending one to Italy and one to Japan," she said. "The cost of food is so much higher overseas than it is here, so any little bit helps. For example, for the family in Japan, five apples cost $11. So if we can send them coupons to use on hygiene products, that will help."

Thomas also thinks of her son while clipping and sorting. He is serving on a base in Japan, raising his young son.

"I picture families just like his family, just like my family," Thomas explained as she fills envelopes that cost just dollars to send and are packed with much more than simple coupons.

"They're just packed with love and thanks and appreciation and honor for what they're doing for our country."

Here's how to help:

  • First, choose the organization you want to work with. Some allow you to send coupons directly to a family overseas. Others ask you to mail your coupons to a location here in the U.S. where they repackage them and mail overseas.
  • Coupons can be used up to six months past expiration, but unexpired coupons can be sent as well and will be able to be used longer.
  • Only send manufacturer coupons. Do not send coupons that are for a specific store.
  • Printable coupons from the internet are also accepted.
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