Coupons and charity: How to turn your savings into good deeds

Some charities can use gift cards you can get with deals or discounts.

Some charities can use gift cards you can get with deals or discounts.(File photo)

If you are taking full advantage of coupons and picking up every free item available, you will probably find yourself with products you don’t really need.  I used to pass up  the baby care, dog food, kid toys and makeup in colors I don’t like. What a waste!  I could have been gathering and donating all those years.

I’m not saying anyone should spend money on things you don’t need just because a coupon is available. That would be wasteful. I am saying it makes sense to pick up free items if you know a place in your community that can use them.

Dawn Marron, Esq.

Money is always the preferred donation to any organization, and I would love to give to all the charities dear to my heart, but that isn’t always possible.  With coupons, I can reach more charities and feel good knowing I didn’t bust my budget.

Charity wish list

On PennLive’s “Wish List,” I can find a charitable organization to give anything that I can find with coupons.

  • Baby wipes? Carlisle Area Family Life Center
  • Diapers? Healthy Steps Diaper Bank
  • Men’s aftershave? Gaudenzia
  • Free diabetes meters? Beacon Clinic for Health and Hope
  • Kid’s toothbrush? Hershey Hearts
  • Box of paper (I get free with rebate at Staples)? LGBT Center of Central PA and Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance
  • Detergent I’m allergic to? West House Personal Care Home
  • Can of fruit I don’t prefer? NutriPacks

Gift cards

Gift cards are welcome at any charity. Remember to get a bonus for yourself when you purchase a gift card. At the grocery store, the bonus could be gas points.  At the pharmacy store, it could be reward points. At a restaurant, it could be a smaller gift card for that restaurant.

If you buy the gift card online, you can get a cash discount, depending on availability.

For example, I planned my Black Friday annual trip to PetSmart by buying gift cards first. I used to get 15 percent off PetSmart cards before I even shopped. The cards came in the mail in 5 days.

I then used coupons and sales to save 52 percent more on six bags of cat food, six tubs of treats and seven 35-pound boxes of litter. I left with 67 percent off total, and I also saved a huge amount of time and worry by stocking up for the whole year.

The system isn’t perfect.

Pick a card resale site that guarantees refunds if the card arrives empty. I’ve had good results at, and

Charity Auction

At, charity is a huge online auction. For as little as a $10 donation, you can enter an auction to win an experience of a lifetime, including VIP trips with mega-stars, mini-golf with Bono and game night with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell (I didn’t even know I wanted this until I looked at the site). Sixty-five percent of the winners donated a hundred dollars or less.

My wish list 

I wish for financial peace for all of us.  Expert Suze Ormon reminds us to only give what we have.  A gift is not generous if it puts anyone in debt.

I wish the wealthy among us will share what you have. The richer you are, the farther away from people in need you are, and the more likely you are to hoard your money. Giving to charity feels good. Don’t be a Scrooge.

I wish for you to  invite me to your organization to show you and the population you serve how to get free stuff you all need.

I wish you will come to a free coupon class in New Cumberland to learn from our experts how to stretch your program dollars. January will be a beginner class.

And the game night thing. That would be amazing.


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