Campus Clippers Keep Clipping for Charity

Ellen Hoffman, Editor-in-Chief

Clip. Snip. Rip.

Coupons can be found pretty much anywhere – in the Sunday newspaper, online, in the mail, on smart phones, at the bottom of receipts, but one place they are rarely found is in the hands of college students.

Senior health care management major Aaron Orchard is an exception.

He said he is an extreme couponer, and he formed a club to teach others how to save cash with a clip and snip.

Orchard paired with admissions counselor Kristen Andrews, another self-titled extreme couponer, to create Campus Clippers.

Orchard came up with the idea during the summer when he worked a United Way a food drive. He put his couponing skills to work and bought $800 worth of products for only $50.

The club has 30 active members after just two meetings.

Members have couponed enough to buy 749 items with a retail value of $1,772 for only $9.40.

The Clippers donated the Pop Tarts, Advil, crackers and toiletries to local food banks and shelters.

“Everything we coupon gets donated to charity,” Orchard said. “I think our main thing now is trying to find a list of places and a list of what they desperately need because right now
we’re just assuming. We don’t really know what they need. One of our goals is to find out what they need and develop a partnership with them.”

Orchard said it is important to build relationships not only with the charity’s members want to support but also the stores where the organizations plan to shop.

“The first thing I say when I put my stuff up on the belt is, ‘Listen, I have a lot of coupons but I just want to let you know I coupon for charity. I’m not keeping any of this for myself,’” he said. “Sometimes I get weird looks when I
put up 16 bottles of Advil or 20 things of panty liners. You have to explain to them what it’s for. Now that they know what I do it for, and that I’m giving it to charity, they are OK with it.”

Andrews said extreme couponers quickly get a skewed sense of “a lot” and “a little” because they must often buy in bulk.

“Aaron came back from Target the other day,” Andrews said, “and he was like, ‘Ugh, I could only get 16 bottles of Advil.’ And

I said to him, ‘You realize that’s a lot to most people.’ But I totally get where he is coming from.

Members say they are always looking for new ideas to save in addition to their favorite websites and apps that contain coupons, which include Coupons. com, Cartwheel and manufacturers’ sites.
Andrews said members cannot plan to buy particular products; they must simply know how to spot a deal.

“It’s when a price cut aligns with a manufacturer coupon and aligns with a store coupon plus Cart- wheel. It’s almost like waiting for the stars to align for these things to happen,” Andrews said.

Andrews, who has been extreme couponing for two years, said members can grow saving skills if they stick with it.

“A great way to learn how to do it yourself is to keep coming back because you can’t learn over- night,” Andrews said. “Right now a lot of people are just along for the ride and we’re happy to have them, but they’ll learn how to do it by helping other people. There are no losers in this scenario, which is great.”

Andrews and Orchard want club members to educate themselves as well as others. Andrews said she would like to visit other schools to help them start clubs or to just to teach a few tips and tricks.

“A lot of these places hear about what we’re doing and they want to do it for themselves. Ruth’s Place gets 30 papers on Sunday, so they have all those coupons they just don’t know what to do with them. They want us to come and talk to them as a club and teach them how to do it,” Andrews said.

One thing they want people to know, or remind them of, is that sales move very fast.

“We go shopping like three or four times a week,” Orchard said. “We’ll get like 20 coupons and rush to the store to get the products and sometimes we’ll put in a mass order. Then we’ll come home and get more coupons and go back the next day. You don’t want to miss out on sales.”

Andrews said they try to keep all members informed through a Facebook page and an email chain.

One recent snag had members requesting the use of office computers because some sites only permitted users to print two coupons per computer IP address. Their first thought was to use computer labs to print two coupons from each computer, but that didn’t work because they share an IP address.

One other problem is an irony: Members have had to spend their own money. The club recently held its first fund raiser, a Krispy Kreme doughnut sale.

“So for right now the little bit of money we need for products or newspapers is coming out of our own pockets so that’s why we need to get creative,” Andrews said.

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