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March 11, 2008
Seniors Cutting Coupons for Military Families
This is an inspiring story. Senior citizens across the country are cutting out coupons and sending them to military families based overseas so that they can redeem them at the military commissaries on bases:
In a new era of American warfare, when people are told to support the war effort by boosting the economy by shopping or simply by going on with their lives, these women think more should be done. The idea quickly spread from Greenbelt, MD to other states:
They are from an older generation that remembers the days of war bonds and rations, and they are trying again to make a difference, one coupon at a time.
Lila Sclawy, 87, started clipping shortly after her husband, a veteran, died in 2001 of pancreatic cancer. Four weeks later, she turned on the news to see the World Trade Center crashing down.
As the country grieved, she was looking for a way to overcome her grief. That's when she heard about the coupon ladies in Greenbelt. They meet every Tuesday in the musty upstairs room at American Legion Post #136. Each woman brings a heaping bundle of newspaper scraps gathered from their neighbors. For hours, they comb through the coupons, sorting them by denomination -- 25 cents off, 30 cents, a dollar -- so they can keep track of how much they're sending in each box.
The coupons are honored up to six months past expiration at overseas bases, where base officials distribute them to the spouses and children of troops who sometimes struggle to make ends meet on military salaries.
When other retirement homes heard about it, the Riderwood group started getting letters from seniors in Texas and Pennsylvania who wanted to start their own groups. Now, more than half of the coupons shipped by the Greenbelt American Legion post come from Riderwood. That's $54 million in savings for the families of our ,military serving overseas all the result of citizen action at the grass roots level.
Nationally, no one keeps a complete record of all coupons sent to overseas bases, but the American Legion Auxiliary's national office in Indianapolis says it mails as much as $54 million worth of coupons a year.
Kudos to those seniors who have found a way to contribute so directly to the quality of life of those families that sacrifice the most to protect us and keep us free.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky