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Coupon Patch: Using Coupons for Charity

Coupons can help you stretch your budget for donations to food pantries and other charitable organizations.

I really do get it - some people simply have no need for coupons for their household.

I honestly hear you when you tell me that. You make your own food. You’re too brand loyal. You shop exclusively at local markets. You don’t have pets. You really, really, really don’t buy packaged food no matter how much I want to think everyone does. You just don’t need the hassle. Got it!  

However, there is another way to use coupons that involves neither filling your own refrigerator nor buying things you would never use in quantities you don’t need. If you watch sales carefully or follow certain blogs or websites, you can use coupons to buy items for donation to your local food banks, to relief efforts in the United States or outside the country, to soldiers overseas, or to your local animal shelter, while only spending pennies - or possibly nothing beyond your time and the energy you spend pushing the cart around.

The DIY Route to Charitable Donations with Coupons

You can do this all on your own, of course. Simply shop with an eye toward great deals on nonperishable food items, canned items, and toiletries of all kinds. Of course there are always sales and always store brands. The idea is to take it a step further by using one of the many sites that helps with the coupon-plus-sale matchup to drop your total down - way down. 

But take note - there are some sites that are specifically set up to make it easy for you to find the best deals that will lead to the best donations. Two of my favorites are Coupon Mom and Zeal for a Deal (which specifically makes weekly “Change for a Change” posts).  

Use Websites to Stretch Your Donation Budget with Ease

Every week, Coupon Mom gives you the breakdown of sale items, coupon match ups, and percentage saved for just about any store you can think of, including Publix and Kroger, as well as stores like Target, Walmart, and CVS.

She takes it one step further by specifically labeling items that are great for donation with the word “charity.” You can simply search the larger list for items labeled as such and then use that to shop. You can also look through for deeply discounted items that you know are in demand - body wash, for example, or boxed pasta - and add those to your basket.

On the other hand, each week Zeal for a Deal makes a specific list for Publix and a specific list for Kroger to show you what easy-to-donate items you can get for approximately three dollars total.

Her lists emphasize items that are easy to acquire, even for someone who doesn’t have a stockpile of coupons or who doesn’t use coupons very often. (Sometimes she even lists items that don’t need coupons at all!) Her lists are straightforward and simple - and often she can stretch that three dollars into a substantial bag of groceries and toiletries to donate.

One Item a Week In Your Cart Really Adds Up

I invite you to think outside the box when you hear about coupons. If you already donate, this may help you stretch your dollars further and donate more. If you haven’t been able to donate in the past, sites like these may enable you to put one or two items in your shopping cart that don’t add much to your bottom line and that you can drop off at your leisure. If you don’t want to buy the Sunday paper, check out  for other ways to acquire coupons, because there are many. Remember,  and  can be extremely helpful!

Here's how I made this system work: Last year, I started putting aside items here and there for a few months. By the holidays, I was able to donate two large bags of groceries and toiletries (everything from canned soup and toothpaste to rice and pancake mix) to a local food pantry - and I had spent just a few dollars to do so. I got much of what I donated for free or for pennies, and I bought it all during my regular shopping trips, so really, it wasn’t a big deal to do it. But I know it meant a lot to the recipients.

cristyquirk June 20, 2011 at 05:46 AM
They ask for your zip code to provide ones that match the products in your local Target and "Printapon" and other online sources. Be sure to check out the websites of your favorite products often has coupons
Stan Brown June 20, 2011 at 11:30 AM
Saturday SavingsAngel hosted a Day of Sharing - everyone who brought canned goods got a discounted admission to a theme park - food was donated to a local pantry - many brought items that they had purchased with coupons.
Suzanne Sen June 20, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Would you please write an article about how to send expired coupons to the soldiers overseas? I just found out that they can use coupons several months expired, and would appreciate knowing more about it. Thanks!

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