ELYRIA, Ohio - What do you do with your unwanted or expired coupons? If you're throwing them in the trash, you could be throwing away savings. Your trash may be a military serviceman or woman's treasure.
Coupons are easy to get your hands on in the United States. They're in the newspaper, mail, and Internet. That's not the case for some Americans living overseas. That's why Shirley Gallaher and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Unit 12 in Elyria collects, clips and counts thousands of coupons a week. The group spends 6,663 hours a year clipping coupons.
"It's 3,400 coupons valued at $4,500," Gallaher said.
Gallaher sends care packages full of coupons to soldiers overseas. She spends more than $300 a year to help save a soldier money.
"The coupons are basically used by the low income families and they really appreciate that," Gallaher explained.
Gallaher and her husband still feel that appreciation 40 years later. In 1972, Gallaher lived in Ethiopia where her US Navy husband was stationed. With a young baby, money was tight.
"Some nice group did this for us and did it for the commissary overseas in Ethiopia and I want to pay it forward," Gallaher explained.
For 10 years, Gallaher enlisted the Ladies Auxiliary and they enlist their neighbors, family and churches to donate coupons they don't want.
"I don't need diapers and formula anymore," coupon clipper and Unit 12 National Security Chairman Ruth Koler said laughing.
The group even takes expired coupons. US Commissaries, or food stores, take manufacturer coupons for six months past the expiration date.
"It's fantastic. It's unbelievable they can use these," Koler explained.
Koler's hard work helps hard working service men and women in five countries. It's her way of giving back and remembering her two late husbands. Both fought for our freedom.
A military member at the Far East Yongsan, Korea, Commissary wrote in an email, "Thank you for your support in sending us coupons. We greatly appreciate it. Our Military families appreciate the coupons you send for them. The coupons you send us get used mostly by our lower rank families; especially if the coupons are baby essential (diapers, formula, etc). Your coupons help them in a great way. Our Military families thank you for your support and we do too."
There are several national effort to collect outdated coupons including Coupons for Troops .
We contacted the military and were told the government is working on a paperless coupon system. It's still in the early stages and currently not every coupon is available electronically.
Local coupon donations:
Mail or Drop-off:
The American Legion Post 12
393 Ohio Street
Elyria, OH 44035-5146
Attention: ALA Unit 12
The Grafton-Midview Public Library
983 Main Street
Grafton, OH 44044
National coupon donations:
Send active coupons to:
Attn: Active Coupons for Troops
PO BOX 231
Whiting, IN 46394-0231
Send expired coupons to:
Attn: Expired Coupons for Troops
PO BOX 430
Whiting, IN 46394-0430