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Clipping Away for Military Families

It’s an ambitious goal: Clip thousands of dollars’ worth of coupons in one year and give them away. But Kay MacVey is cut out for the challenge—particularly for National Military Appreciation Month in May.

MacVey, 82, is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 37, in Ames, Iowa, where she and other members have adopted a coupon program for military families stationed overseas. The coupons are redeemed at commissaries.

“The families really enjoy using them, and it saves them a lot of money, especially on diapers and baby food,” says the great-grandmother.

MacVey heard about the program through the legion’s national office and got involved. In 2007, she and 30 volunteers helped to clip more than $349,000 worth of coupons from newspapers. This year’s goal: $500,000.

Surprisingly, that number won’t set a record. In the nearby city of Nevada, Iowa, another American Legion auxiliary topped the million-dollar mark last year.  Clipping, organizing and mailing the coupons can take several hours each week, but MacVey doesn’t mind. “There are a lot of things I can’t do, but I can do this.”

How to help clip:

Coupon clipping is one way to help military families overseas in a concrete way. But before you reach for the scissors, here are a few guidelines.

• Coupons must be manufacturer coupons. Manufacturers will honor coupons from any newspaper or circular. Store coupons are usually good only for the store featured.

• Coupons are good for up to six months after their expiration date. But mailing the coupons can take weeks, so don’t send coupons that are three months past their expiration.

• Make sure you use the APO or FPO (Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) military address and its postal code to send coupons overseas.

• E-mail the commissary before sending coupons. Some commissaries already have more than enough coupons for their military families.

To contact a commissary, go to www.commissaries.com/store_locator.cfm. Once there, select a country and then a commissary. You will be taken to the commissary’s information page. Send an e-mail to the store’s management, listed on the right-hand side, to see if it is accepting coupons.
If you’d like to join a group already clipping coupons, look for an American Legion Auxiliary unit in your area. About 1,500 units nationwide participate in the program.

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