Reaching out to help our military saveBy Stephanie Nelson
Over the years, many readers of this column have been sending expired grocery coupons to overseas military bases to help families save money. Although most stores in the United States do not accept expired grocery coupons, the military base stores will accept grocery coupons up to six months past their expiration date.
Martin Sloane, my Supermarket Shopper predecessor, was instrumental in coordinating efforts among readers to send packages of coupons to overseas military bases. Unfortunately after 9/11, the security measures at these bases changed regarding acceptance of packages. Many readers let me know they had taken the time and effort to send packages that were later returned because the packages did not have a specific person’s name in the address. Understandably, these readers were frustrated. Initially, I had no idea how to get a person’s name. We only had base mailing addresses.
Fortunately, I recently received an e-mail from a person at an overseas military base requesting that we send their base coupons. In his e-mail he said: “In 2003, Martin Sloane wrote about how the military overseas personnel can use expired coupons and he included my overseas address. Our base was filled with love from people sending coupons to us. We are now back overseas in Germany and with the euro so strong against the dollar everyone needs to shop on base even more. We would really appreciate our address going out to anyone who would like to send us coupons. So many families over here really need that extra help that coupons bring us. Thank you so much.”
I verified the contact information and name, and would like to share that with readers who are interested in supporting our military families in this way. The proper mailing address is: “Thomas Leugers USAG-HD / CMR 419 Box 1467 / APO AE 09102.” Leugers’ e-mail address is email@example.com that you can use to let him know you plan to send coupons and to verify the address.
If you would like to learn about other military bases that are in need of coupons, I suggest you visit the Web site for the “Overseas Coupon Program” at www.ocpnet.org. It coordinates the bases that want to be “adopted” with individuals or organizations that are interested in sending regular packages of coupons to overseas bases. You can view the site’s list of available bases, or you can e-mail the site’s coordinator, Edward Allen, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to write Allen rather than sending an e-mail, the address is: Edward W. Allen III / P.O. Box 7539 / Columbia, MO 65205.
Allen gives practical guidelines on www.ocpnet.org to those interested in sending coupons:
√ Although base stores accept coupons that are up to six months past their expiration date, coupons should not be more than two months past their expiration date when they are sent (due to the time lag involved of shipping, sorting, distributing, and finally being able to use the coupons at an opportune time.
√ Be sure to cut out the coupons (which saves on mailing weight as well) and sort the coupons into “food” and “non-food” categories.
√ Allen recommends Parcel Post as the best delivery method because it is least expensive.
The Overseas Coupon Program also requests that you report your shipments to their site by either adding up the face value of the coupons or weighing the package of coupons. Keep in mind that this is a request; it is not a requirement to send coupons overseas.
I hope this is helpful for those of you who have missed sending coupons overseas.
If there are readers who have been sending coupons to bases successfully, and you have a contact name along with a base address, I would really appreciate hearing from you. I am sure other readers would like to send coupons to your base, as well.
Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” You can find more of her savings tips in her book “The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom” and on her website at www.couponmom.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.