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Clipping coupons for the greater good

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

By Carmen M. Hubbard

HAMILTON DEANERY — Some motherly advice struck a chord with Marie Wilson about being mindful of the necessities that are sometimes taken for granted. She realized that despite the tough economy, she and her family have been blessed with food that they can share with others.

“My mother said, ‘take care of the gifts God gave you,’” Wilson said. “People had coupons they were not using. I can multiply the usage and find great bargains coupled with store specials.”

Marie Wilson, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Fairfield, poses with the coupons she clips to benefit area food pantries. (Courtesy photo)

Wilson has been clipping coupons and bargain hunting for groceries and household items for her faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Fairfield since last summer. She purchases items with donations and the church, in turn, gives them to neighborhood food pantries. The parish’s Peace and Justice Commission provides nonperishable foods and toiletries to its food pantry and others in Butler County.

Wilson, who is a wife and a stay-at-mother of two and avid coupon clipper, came up with idea to purchase items for the parish food pantry with her remaining coupons. Every week, she spends two hours sorting through coupons from the Sunday newspaper and visits various coupon saving communities on the Internet. Then, armed with her coupons, she makes her way to area drug stores and supermarkets to redeem her savings.

“Marie Wilson challenged us that whatever we saved we could give the food pantry,” said Pat Irwin, chairperson of Peace and Justice Commission. “I think she has helped give us something that we have haven’t taken time to do.”

The commission hosts a different food theme every month to collect food for its pantry. This month parishioners are donating rice. The parish pantry also gives some of its donations to other pantries such as Open Door Food Pantry, the Lord’s Cupboard at Serve City and Fairfield Food Pantry — all located in Butler County.

“We’re getting more people in the parish that have needs,” Irwin said. “We collect money every month.”

The commission also hosts guest speakers at Sacred Heart.

“This is really pretty neat,” Wilson said. “When the economy started to get really bad, people in our own parish needed help in their lives. I don’t come in contact with people in need. This is kind of another way to give.”

When word about her efforts of using coupons to purchase items for the food pantry spread last fall, an anonymous parishioner donated $50 to the Peace and Justice Commission. From there, Wilson bought 78 items spending $50.43. With the coupons, store sales and store reward programs, Wilson saved $244.80.

For her next purchase, she spent a $105.20 donation on 270 items and saved $751.77. Wilson’s next trip included buying 305 items with a $150 donation that totaled $996.57 in savings. Wilson said she helps make up the difference when spending donated funds on items.

Wilson also collects coupons from parishioners who donate theirs from the Sunday paper. She said she prefers to receive unclipped coupon inserts.

“I can consciously donate and I say a prayer to help be a good steward of what’s given to me,” she said. “This is an opportunity for parishioners who can contribute in their own way on their own time. It’s the idea of sharing, it’s not just me doing it.”

Wilson strives to pass on the lesson of giving to and sharing with others with her two daughters, ages six and four, along with other members of Scared Heart Parish.

“It’s God working through me and the church. I tell parishioners that they can go multiply what I’m doing,” she said. “When people put donations in a box, I always say a prayer. I’m more conscious of (helping to serve others) and feel as though I’m doing something.”  

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