Though couponing may seem like a recent phenomenon, the idea behind it is nothing new. In fact, coupons have been around since the late 1800’s. But thanks to TLC’s Extreme Couponing, discount shopping has been taken to a whole new level. It requires time, patience, dedication, and organization, which is why extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. (Believe me, I’ve tried it and it so wasn’t for me.) However, after hearing Lauren Puryear’s inspiring story, I may have to revisit this whole coupon-clipping craze after all; because according to Puryear, she’s been able to help feed thousands of people from her money-saving efforts.
I repeat: THOUSANDS.
By day, the New Jersey native is a mental health clinician and mom of one, who works hard to care for herself and her 5-year-old son. But Puryear is also the founder of For The Love Of Others, a truly amazing organization which seeks to “empower, enrich, and enhance lives of people from all backgrounds [by] providing opportunities to enable them to live a purposeful life.” And it’s also what helped Puryear deliver meals to people all over the New Jersey and in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, as well as several surrounding areas.
In an interview with Babble, Puryear explained how For The Love Of Others — and its mission — came about:
“My grandmother, Marion Smith, had a heart of gold and raised us in a household where we were always giving back to others … I started For the Love of Others [in her memory] after she passed away in 2012.”
Initially, the organization provided Thanksgiving baskets for families in need and helped fulfill Christmas wish lists for children. But before long, Puryear decided that For The Love Of Others should continue to help those in need year-round. And so, this hardworking mama set out to do just that, the only way she knew how: She shopped in bulk, and at big box stores.
But it wasn’t until eight months ago that Puryear met Jessica Harris, an extreme couponer who introduced Puryear to the extreme couponing world. Needless to say, Puryear hasn’t looked back since.
“Couponing can take a lot of my time depending on what items I am trying to get,” she tells Babble. “I can spend a few minutes or half of the day couponing. [But] I realized that couponing would make a difference when I was able to feed 500 people by spending less than $50.”
And if you’re wondering why Puryear chose food as her medium for helping others, her reasoning was simple: “food is fuel for the soul!”
“While feeding the hungry is not the only project we do, it has become my main focus right now because couponing has given me the opportunity to be able to feed so many,” she tells Babble.
Plus, as Puryear recently explained to NJ.com, the experience has been rewarding in ways she never expected. It’s helped feed her family’s soul, enabling her to teach her son the true meaning of giving back:
“It is very important to teach [my son] to help other people,” says Puryear. “The little things we take for granted, the food we throw away every day … and if we just spread a little more love around, the world would be such a better place.”
Puryear has delivered 5,000 meals so far, and her goal is to deliver 30,000 meals before her 30th birthday — which is a lofty goal, to say the least, since Puryear is 29. But considering her next round of meal deliveries is expected to feed 1,500 just next month, it’s a goal I have no doubt Puryear will meet.
Still, it’s less about the number, and more about the people who need those meals so desperately.
“What keeps me going is that I know that there are hungry people in the world and God has blessed me to be able to be in a position where I can help them,” says Puryear. “Not just the hungry, but all people.”
But that’s not all.
“I want the world to know that my efforts to feed the hungry just touch the surface of the bigger issue, which is poverty and homelessness in America,” she adds. “I want to bring awareness to these issues in hopes of finding a resolution.”