Do you ever think about the fact that nursing home residents frequently receive care from others, but they rarely have an opportunity to give to others? For this reason, we look for activities that include a “giving” component. One option is to send expired coupons to troops serving overseas.
You might not be aware that overseas commissaries accept manufacturer coupons that have been expired for up to 6 months. (Note that this only applies to overseas sites, not commissaries within the United States.) Overseas military bases don’t have easy access to coupons like we do here in the states. Using coupons is a huge money saver for individuals and military families.
Here’s How the Process Works:
- Ask people for donations of coupons from newspapers, magazines, and store flyers. They must be manufacturer coupons, not coupons for restaurants or specific stores (Target, etc.).
- Although coupons are accepted up to 6 months after expiration, we find it best to send those that expired no more than 2-3 months ago. This allows time for mailing as well as distribution at the military base.
- Coupons generally need to be sorted into two categories: food & nonfood. (The “food” category is for items consumed by humans for calories. Products such as dog food or multivitamins go in the “nonfood” category.)
- You’ll need to clip the coupons; please don’t send complete coupon flyers. Coupons printed online also should not be included.
- You must pay for postage to mail the coupons. However, the rate to military bases is the same as mailing a package to a mainland address. We find it best to use Priority Mail flat rate boxes.
- If you’re sending the coupons directly to a military base, the post office will ask you to fill out a simple customs form.
This is a great activity to do with community groups such as college students or church groups looking for service projects. It gives them an opportunity to assist the nursing home residents and the military at the same time!
Feel free to include encouraging notes in your boxes. If you include a self-addressed postcard, you just might receive a thank you note in return. We’ve also asked children from our on-site children’s center to make drawings to put in the boxes.
If you would like to send coupons directly to a military base on a regular basis, there’s a great resource called CoupsForTroops that will help you adopt a military family who uses expired coupons. There are also sites here in the states such as Troupons that collect coupons from a variety of groups and then send them to many different military bases. You can also contact your local VFW or American Legion Auxiliary for more information.
Have you ever participated in this program, either by sending or receiving coupons? Please share your experiences in the comment section!