Valley Grange and local schools team up for troops

Valley Grange, well known for their partnerships and support of local elementary schools and students, has asked students to join in an effort to support troops stationed overseas by supporting the “Coups for Troops” program.  The program was started in 2011 by Stephanie Almasy and several friends who were saving their families hundreds of dollars each month by clipping coupons.  Almasy learned that military families overseas could use coupons at commissaries and she and her friends time sent coupons to twenty-six families. Just a few months later, over four hundred military families from over ten countries signed up for coupons and the program began growing geometrically.

The Maine State Grange recently qualified as a satellite collection center where coupons are collected in bulk, then packaged and mailed directly to individual families overseas. Valley Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma says he was particularly impressed by the simplicity of the program. “This is what we might call a ‘no-brainer,’” Boomsma said. “The only requirement is an ability to use scissors!” Valley Grange members readily agreed and it wasn’t long before the idea of inviting the schools to help surfaced.

“All we’re asking people to do is clip the coupons—there’s no need to sort, and the kids can just bring them to school and drop them in the collection bins,” Boomsma explained. “Other than a little wear and tear on scissors, there’s absolutely no cost involved to those who want to help out! Keep the ones you can use and get the rest to us. We’re already cutting out Box Tops for Education and so this should be a good fit.”

“This couldn’t be much easier,” added Valley Grange Community Service Chairperson Mary Annis. “We don’t even need to worry about expiration dates—commissaries will accept coupons that have expired up to six months ago, so we have plenty of time to get them overseas.” The only coupons that can’t be accepted are those specific to stores. “We can take manufacturers coupons and ‘catalinas’ (coupons printed on the back of register tapes),” Annis explained.

SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft and Piscataquis Community Elementary School in Guilford were quick to agree to serve as collection sites. PCES Principal Julie Orton believes the program is a good fit for the school’s mission. “The Coups for Troops Program is an opportunity for our students to ‘give back.’  It’s all part of a bigger picture, which is helping students to become responsible and involved citizens, an important focus of the Guiding Principles of Maine’s Learning Results.Our students and their families have always shown generosity toward others in need and I fully expect that this project will be another success.”

Additional information about the program is available at http://valleygrange.com. Coupons can also be brought to any Valley Grange meeting or given to a member of Valley Grange.

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