Mom is using extreme couponing to feed thousands of people in need
Extreme couponing may well be the latest trend in competitive everything, but while some people scoff at the coupon-clipping and bulk-buying tactics, New Jersey mom Lauren Puryear is using these penny-pinching techniques to feed thousands of people. Literally thousands.
Lauren Puryear grew up with the guiding hand of a loving grandmother, who was always giving her time and energy to help those in need. So after the death of her grandmother in 2012, it seemed fitting for Puryear to honor her legacy by launching the organization For Love of Others to provide food and other essentials to the homeless population. “[My grandmother] always taught us to help other people and to love other people,” Puryear tells Scary Mommy. “I know that she would want me to carry on her legacy.”
What started with providing Thanksgiving baskets to families in need, eventually turned into feeding the homeless year-round – no small feat indeed. For many years, Puryear met these needs the same way many moms feed their families – by shopping at Costco, of course. Shopping in bulk, she could get more bang for her buck and meet the expanding needs. But she still wanted to do more and, because she was buying the food with her own money, providing the meals started to take a serious toll on her pocketbook.
Enter the magical world of extreme couponing.
“I was introduced to couponing about eight months ago and knew that was my golden ticket to be able to help so many people,” says Puryear. Clipping coupons for staples like spaghetti and meatballs, she quickly she realized that this money-saving-strategy-turned-zealous-hobby could help her feed not just hundreds, but thousands, of hungry people.
“After I couponed for 50 jars of Ragu sauce and 100 boxes of Barilla pasta all for FREE, I knew I was going to make a difference in the world,” she says.
Coupons are valuable paper and a hot commodity when used correctly. Puryear told NJ.com she can feed as many as 150 people with just $20 by getting items for free or for next to nothing. We bow down to you, Ms. Puryear, oh Queen of the Coupon. Or shall we call you The Couponing Crusader? What about the Sensational Saver? In any event, we can all agree that Puryear is a kicking ass and taking names.
“The joy of helping other people does not compare to any other accomplishment in my life,” says Puryear. And just what are those accomplishments she talks about? Oh, just a little something like earning four – four! – degrees, including a bachelor’s, two masters, and a Ph.D. in psychology. And if saving the world by feeding the hungry weren’t enough, Puryear is also a mental health clinician and single mom to a five-year-old son.
A self-proclaimed social butterfly, Puryear and her friends – some of whom are members of the homeless communities she serves – spread the word about the free meals. And Puryear often has an adorable, little helper with her while she dishes up the meals – her son.
“It is very important to teach [my son] to help other people,” she told NJ.com. “The little things we take for granted, the food we throw away every day … and if we just spread a little more love around, the world would be such a better place.”
Puryear and her couponing – extreme or otherwise – are a much-needed breath of fresh air. In this WTF, FTS, and depressing-as-heck news cycle we’re in these days, it sure is nice to read about a woman spreading love, helping those in need, and doing her part to make the world a better place.
So far, Puryear has delivered 5,000 meals to people in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and surrounding areas. With the goal of delivering 30,000 meals to people in need by her 30th birthday, 29-year-old Puryear has her work cut out for her. But she’s confident that she’ll reach her goal by next year. And quite frankly, so are we.
“What inspires me is knowing that someone is going to bed with a full belly,” she says. “I am motivated by the fact that I know that I can make a difference in the world.”