Community coupons help West Phila. church save big

February 21, 2011 6:36:36 AM PST
When the Dean at the Episcopal Cathedral in West Philadelphia blesses the offering, there may not be any money in the basket. Instead, it's full of coupons.

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral Parishioner Stacey Duke-Middleton founded the church's Coupon Ministry after she started couponing herself and cut her own family's food budget in half.

"My kids loved it. There was more stuff in the house than they had ever seen, much more variety and it cost us about 50% less than what we were originally spending," she says.

Instead of pocketing her savings, Duke-Middleton used the money, and her coupon savvy, to buy items for the ECS Saint Barnabas Mission, which provides services for homeless women and children. Then she asked fellow parishioners to start donating their coupons, so she could get even more freebies and low-cost products.

Duke-Middleton uses coupon-matching websites to locate the best deals. Over a two week period she finds she can buy about $500 worth of food and household items for about $100.

The coupon ministry allows even church members who don't have a lot of money themselves to help others.

"If you already get the newspaper, or you live in an apartment building and your neighbors are discarding their papers," Duke-Middleton expalins, "You actually can give real dollar impact with those coupons and it wasn't doing anything before. It was just sitting there on the floor."

St. Barnabas Director Victoria Bennett is grateful to the donations which support both a community food pantry and the residents.

"This is really exciting for us to be able to have this donation from the Cathedral and from Stacey," she says. . "It allows us to actually supplement the work that we do here in our food cupboard that we have here. We offer it three days a week for the surrounding community and we also provide meals here, three meals a day and two snacks, for our families that are living here currently."

Another organization that's operating a program that's similar to ECS's Coupon Ministry in New Jersey is Coupons for the Community.

Also, Living Rich With Coupons has compiled list of charitable organizations that take food or coupon donations.

And "Coupon Mom" Leslie Nelson has information on similar organizations on her site. Click here to access it.