Freedom isn’t free — even with coupons.
But that doesn’t mean military families have to pay full price.
At least that’s how the Auxiliary Unit for American Legion Post 108 sees it.
The auxiliary, which serves Lutz and Wesley Chapel and is based in Land O’ Lakes, has launched a coupon-clipping initiative to help military families overseas.
The auxiliary is made up of women who are spouses, daughters and granddaughters of veterans, living or deceased. They are rounding up discarded or unused coupons from local publications, including The Laker/Lutz News.
They take the coupon sheets, books and inserts, and painstakingly clip away at the deals. Then, they bundle and package them to send overseas for military families to use at the bases’ commerce areas.
“It’s a low-budget way to give back, to do things for our military and their families,” said Barbara Bird, leader of Auxiliary Unit 108. “We can do so many things, but sometimes it costs a little more to do things, but this is a way to do something and save them money.
“We get a lot of them from The Laker, and I’ve asked my neighbor to save her Laker, and I’ve been trying to find where I can find extra Lakers and newspapers that are left over, but we’ll take any newspaper we can with coupons that people don’t use.”
Post 108’s Auxiliary Unit is relatively new, with it just starting in mid-2022 and getting its charter approved in December. However, Bird and about a half-dozen other women — including one Air Force veteran herself — have been gathering coupons out of newspapers and clipping since about September.
The women meet once a month and clip, or clip at home on their own time. Over time, they have sorted and put aside thousands of coupons.
They are about to send out their first batch that will go to a base in either Germany or Poland, and, in total, the coupons are valued at more than $10,000 in savings.
Commerce areas will also honor expired coupons of up to six months.
“Well, it’s definitely a labor of love, that’s for sure,” said Post 108 Chaplain Don Hinst, whose wife, Linda, also does a lot of coupon clipping. “It’s free money — there’s 10 grand right there of free money, and they pass them out to the families because it’s the non-commissioned officers and their families that are struggling.
“The dollar value of all the coupons in the newspapers, when the ladies are clipping, they can get anywhere from $80 to $120 per coupon insert. Why not put that to use for our military members?”
The key has been finding unused coupons, which has meant the women rounding up newspapers and other publications that have been discarded. Several of the women, such as Bird, have been seeking out old newspaper issues in bins, as well as asking their neighbors for their newspapers, if they’re not going to use the coupons.
“I just moved here and I live with my daughter,” Bird said, “and I’m trying to get out, walk around and get to know more people, and if they don’t want their coupons or their Laker, I’ll take them.”
The Auxiliary Unit also invites people in the community to donate newspapers, which can be dropped off at Harvester Community Church in Land O’ Lakes.
Bird, who was instrumental in starting Post 108’s Auxiliary Unit to honor her late husband, a Vietnam veteran who died in 2020, admits most of her free time, as of late, has been spent clipping coupons.
“It’s really gratifying to know how much it has added up to,” she said. “Just the other night, I go, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s $9,000! So, the other night, I said, ‘Let me round this up to 10. And my daughter comes in and is like, ‘What are you doing? Oh, don’t tell me — it’s clipping coupons again! (laughs)’”
“We are so excited to get them the coupons,” Hinst, a Navy veteran, added. “I am so excited to see how much we can help them save, and to see the piles and bags of coupons that were clipped and put together finally get mailed out.
“We would’ve loved to get coupons. We could’ve used that when I served, for sure.”
Bird agrees, knowing full well that if militaries can use anything, it’s discounts on the essentials.
“How great would it have been to get coupons?” Bird asked. “It was just the thought of someone doing something so nice, thinking about military families who do their shopping at commerce areas, and I just know that it is difficult as the price of everything rises, but their salary and pay doesn’t, I can identify with that.
“It’s going to be great when we send them over,” she added. “I hope they’re excited when they get them because I’m excited for them to use all the coupons.”
Coupon Clipping with Post 108’s Auxiliary Unit
American Legion Post 108 serves Wesley Chapel and Lutz, but is based out of the Plantation Palms community in Land O’ Lakes. It recently was granted the charter for its Auxiliary Unit. The unit is composed of spouses, daughters and granddaughters of veterans in the Post. The Auxiliary meets the fourth Monday of each month at 5 p.m. for a social gathering and then at 6 p.m. for a meeting, at the Plantations Palms Golf Club, 23253 Plantation Palms Blvd. The Auxiliary welcomes new members who have a veteran in their family. For more information, visit AmericanLegionPost108.org/index.php?id=20.
The Auxiliary welcomes coupon donations and volunteers to help clip them. The coupons can be dropped off at Harvester Community Church, 2432 Collier Parkway. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Barbara Bird at 206-735-0597 or .
Published January 18, 2023