Members of the Ormond Beach Elks Lodge 2193 spend 2-3 hours sorting through 20 pounds of coupons a week for military families overseas.
Every week, eight Elks members have just three hours to sort through 20 pounds of coupons valuing a total of $50,000. You would think the pressure would be on, but this group of volunteers works through the overwhelming task with good intentions and a lot of laughs.
“I’ve got them all nailed to the ground,” Coordinator John Georgoudiou teased.
“Oh they share stories and have a great time together,” said Ormond Beach Lodge 2193 Lodge Publicity Chairman Mary Ann Bucci. “Many look forward to meeting every week. They’re forever laughing about something.”
After the “sorting party” is over, the lodge packages the coupons, pays for shipping and sends them off to one of the over 400 military commissaries around the world, all in the name of Troopons.
Started by Joe Anania three years ago, the group sorts and sends over 2 million a year in coupons to soldiers and their families that are currently stationed overseas. A veteran himself, Anania was motivated to start programs that benefited military families five years ago and created a license plate that is currently being sold in 28 states. The money from that has helped the nonprofit Troopons group pay for shipping.
“I’m a World War Two veteran, and one day I said ‘What’s with all of these license plates all over to save the butterfly and not our troops?’” he said. “What about the human beings that are sacrificing their lives? This helps wives pay their mortgages will their husbands are overseas and they can’t make means. We help out in every way we can.”
Organizations and individuals all over the country send the Troopons coupons to sort, and the amount of boxes they get every week is more than enough to keep them busy. Anania said what they really need now, is more help sorting. The group is asking for individuals or organizations and businesses to donate one hour a week to help them sort.
“We’ve had a lot of organizations on board in the past, but they’ve lost interest,” he said. “I'm 88 years see too good and I don't hear worth a damn, but I'm here and I'm doing what I can.”
Call Anania at 672-0883 for more information.
Letters of gratitude
The Troopons group has received dozens of letters from military families overseas who want to thank them for their donation and time. Here are just a few examples:
- “Konichiwa. Some of our service members and their families participated in the ‘Coupon Challenge.’ This challenge required them to use as many coupons and save their receipts to determine how much money they saved for a week. Thank you for the continued support.” — Mary, Yokosuka, Japan
- “On behalf if the marines, sailors, civilian employees and family members aboard, we would like to thank ou and your organization. Our personal finance manager here conducts a quarterly ‘Biggest Saver Coupon Contest.’ Last quarter’s winner saved $216.95 and the biggest saver overall saved over $650. The winners receive a free massage. As you can see, the work that you put forth is not in vain.” — Betsy, Marine Corp Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
- “Thank you for taking out the time to clip, bag and mail coupons to our military families currently stationed here. I hear from many families who come in what a difference it makes in their budget. It is heartwarming for our families to know that you are thinking of them.”— Katherine, England