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Extreme couponer aids back-to-school mobile pantry

Posted on Monday, June 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm

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Extreme couponer Debbie Dodd-Hampton holds a cash register tape and displays toothpaste that she purchased for the Hands of Mercy Back to School Mobile Pantry.

Debbie Dodd-Hampton of Mulberry admits she has been an “extreme couponer” for quite some time, but her recent project of using coupons to purchasing 400 tubes of toothpaste to put in backpacks for needy children was by far the largest.

The church Debbie attends, Hope Assembly, along with several other churches, businesses, members of the community and Hands of Mercy Outreach, have gathered back-to-school supplies and backpacks for the first 250 families that are present with their children for the Hands of Mercy Back-to-School Mobile Pantry at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds Saturday, June 22. Additionally, food boxes will be given to the first 250 families present. The event begins at 11 a.m.

 “When I learned of this, I began praying on what I could do to help,” said Debbie, referring to the community effort to gather the backpack supplies. “Being a couponer, I felt I might be able to get some supplies for a great deal.”

She decided to try to get 400 tubes of toothpaste, two for each backpack, to donate.

With two friends and three hours of cutting coupons, Debbie and her friends cut 400 toothpaste coupons and headed to the store.

“I spoke with the manager at a grocery store, who wished to remain anonymous, and told him what this was for, and he was eager to help,” Debbie stated.

The manager placed a special order so that all the toothpaste on the shelves wouldn’t be depleted. Three days later, with coupons, sales and “doubling” of coupons, “I was able to purchase 400 tubes of toothpaste, a total of $717 for only $14.96!

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Debbie purchased $717 worth of toothpaste for only $14.96.

“I then took every one of those, plus a few more I had, to the church to be added to what the children will receive. I was so thrilled to be able to do this,” she said. “Being able to give back in this way was a blessing to me.”

The Back-to-School Mobile Pantry June 22 is going to encompass much more than the usual Mobile Pantry conducted by the organization. This Mobile Pantry is a huge outreach that is geared towards helping children in Lincoln County. Backpacks, school supplies, new shoes, for those who are pre-registered, and free haircuts will be available for the children on a first-come, first serve basis.

There will also be free vision and hearing screenings conducted by the Lions Club, face painting and animal balloons for the children’s entertainment.

Helping bring the event together, in addition to Hands of Mercy Outreach and other local churches and businesses, are the Child Care Resource Center, Health Department, Lincoln County Health System, Centerstone, and LCHS Coordinated School Health.

Additionally, Debbie is now working on another project to help.

“I am hoping that the local dentists we have would read this story and collectively be able to donate 200 or 400 toothbrushes for the children. I know that the dentists understand the importance of healthy teeth and gums when it comes to our overall health, as well as how it affects our self-esteem.

“I know the people involved in this, along with the children would be so grateful.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the distribution should plan to be at the Fairgrounds by 10 a.m. on Saturday. For additionally information, call Tina Hudson at (931) 433-7604.

For those interested in couponing, Debbie will be holding two upcoming classes in July. For more information, go to the “ShopSmartly” coupon Facebook group https://ww.facebook.com/groups/ShopSmartly. Those interested may join and find more information.