local company's 'Extreme couponing' team building activity benefits oldsmar cares in a big way

by Karen Whitton

It’s the strategic shopping craze that is sweeping the nation and helping families stretch their grocery budgets in today's tough economy.  In fact, it has become such a phenomenon that there is even a reality television show about it. Many avid couponers are realizing they can put savvy saving to use not only for themselves and their families, but also for charities like Oldsmar Cares that rely solely on donations. One such person is Karen Huria, whose extreme couponing hobby prompted her manager at Nielsen to approach Oldsmar Cares about a team building activity last fall. Brenda Gaulin, chairperson for Oldsmar Cares was thrilled to have employees of Nielsen coupon for the charity and hoped the goal of the activity would be twofold.  Firstly, to help fill the food pantry shelves and secondly, to change the way people think about donating to food pantries. "We have a lot of well-intentioned people that donate food on a regular basis, yet sometimes the food is past its sell by date," says Gaulin.  "Rather than donating items that are close to their shelf life, this can educate people on how they can purchase and make donations for very little out-of-pocket and perhaps change the way people give to food banks." Nielsen's team building activity took place over the course of an evening, during which Huria gave her fellow associates a short training session on the art of extreme couponing. They were then broken into teams, given cash and a short amount of time to come up with their extreme couponing action plan.  Armed with a wish list of items from Oldsmar Cares, the teams became strategic shoppers as they set about combining the cash with coupons and store discounts to maximize their purchases.  Prizes were awarded to those teams that saved the most money and purchased the greatest quantity of items from the list. Between the shopping teams, who were given $180 total, they purchased a total of 156 items that were worth a shelf cost of $350, all of which was donated to Oldsmar Cares.  Some of the key items they were able to purchase were canned soup and fruit, as well as boxes of pasta. Huria would like to see Nielsen do more extreme couponing events in the future.  She says, “It's great knowing my extreme couponing hobby helped others in more ways than one. Not only did my peers learn how to be more efficient shoppers but their newly learned skill allowed them to make a larger donation of goods to Oldsmar Cares.” You don't have to be an extreme couponer to help Oldsmar Cares.  Be a savvy shopper instead. How You Can Show You Care...
- Look for BOGO deals in your local grocery store, purchase one for your
​ family and donate the other one. 

- Seek out other deals where you are able to get a can or box of food
​ inexpensively, get 10 and donate half.

- Donate unused Coupons to Oldsmar Cares. ​

- Donate high demand items for the Oldsmar Cares pantry:

    Spaghetti Sauce - Hearty Soup - Chili - Canned Fruit - Canned Vegetables - Pasta -     Baked Beans - Canned Fish - Dry Beans - Canned Meat - Canned Pasta