Being a Champion For Kids at Samaritan Community Center

In my days as a journalist, I took a deep look into a rarely-discussed topic: Homelessness and poverty in northwest Arkansas.

Even five years ago, homelessness was becoming a problem, with lots of people staying in shelters or sleeping on friends’ and relatives’ couches. Today, the effects of the recession have made poverty come to the surface.

One of the organizations I learned to respect and appreciate was Samaritan Community Center, which provides a food pantry, case management and advocacy, medical care and a daily soup kitchen. With two thrift store locations,  Samaritan covers part of its program expenses through items sold at the store, and also gives clothing vouchers to those in need. Samaritan has expanded its reach and now has locations in Rogers and Springdale.

Samaritan has an excellent program called Snackpacks for Kids, in which the schools work with Samaritan to provide a bag filled with 8-10 healthy snacks to elementary-school and Head Start children who are at-risk for hunger or food insecurity during the weekends.

It makes sure these kids get nutrition that goes beyond a hot meal at breakfast and lunch. To supplement the kids in between school years, Samaritan has a summer backpack program as well. To help start off the school year, Samaritan distributes backpacks filled with school supplies to children.

In 2011, Samaritan distributed 145,054 snackpacks to at-risk children, 2500 backpacks to children in northwest Arkansas, and an additional 1,000 backpacks to Joplin children affected by the tornado last spring.

Because of all they do for kids, I make regular donations to the Samaritan thrift store, and I decided to choose Samaritan to donate purchases I made through the Couponing For Good campaign from All You Magazine and Champions For Kids.

I donated a number of items that could be distrubuted at the Samaritan Market or could be used in other programs.

One of Samaritan’s major programs is a dental care clinic, so I know the kids’ oral care products I donated would be put to use possibly in the clinic or the market.

The Snackpacks for Kids program only distributes peanut-allergy-free goods, but I know that for a lot of people, peanut butter crackers can be filling and handy to take to work or school.

I placed most of my focus on items that kids would benefit from, like cereal,

Before leaving Samaritan, I made sure to take home literature about the organization. That way I can study up on its programs and services and make decisions on future donations or volunteer opportunities.

juice boxes, hand sanitizer and canned fruit. With the help of coupons I used from the store, I was able to purchase all the goods you see pictured for just a bit over $29.

There are many ways you can Coupon For Good today and in the future. Some Sam’s Club locations now have donation boxes that will be delivered to Feeding America. On May 12, the United States Postal Service  will hold its annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, in which all you have to do is leave a bag of nonperishable food by the mailbox, and your mail carrier will make sure it is delivered to a local food bank.

For more information about my SIMPLE Service Project, read my post on my shopping trip and check out the photos in my Google + album.

You can also visit Champions for Kids at the following links:

To learn more about Samaritan Community Center, visit http://www.samcc.org.

This shop was compensated as part of a consumer insights study by Collective Bias. All opinions are my own unless attributed otherwise.

Couponing For Good with @AllYou Magazine and @Champions4Kids!

Two years ago my life changed. I was working with a local tutoring service, and I was given the task of teaching a 14-year-old how to read.

It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life; the kid was stubborn at times, but I was determined to get to be able to read an entire page without stopping.

He didn’t come from the best of backgrounds – in and out of foster homes, trouble at school, and being court-ordered for tutoring made it a tough job. But in the end, he was reading entire pages without stopping.

I don’t know where he is today, but all I know is that he’s able to read. It was then when I decided to promote mentoring and advocating for our kids. And when they get home, no matter what the situation may be, it’s important that they have necessities we take for granted every day.

Last month, researchers at the University of Michigan and Harvard University released a report that more than 1.4 million families now live on $2 per person per day. That is more than twice what it was in 1996. I couldn’t imagine doing that. So I am very happy that All You Magazine is joining Champions for Kids to encourage people to complete a SIMPLE Service Project in their community to help kids and families lead better, healthier and more empowered lives.

Couponing For Good is all about encouraging those of us who clip and save to
use our coupons to help save money AND power-pack our grocery carts with more items like toiletries, cleaning supplies, food and other items we can save on with coupons.

Armed with an envelope full of coupons, I went to my local Walmart Neighborhood Market in Bentonville, Arkansas to find items to purchase and donate.

I spent just a little more than $29, and was able to purchase several items, including cereal, canned and pouched goods, snacks, juice, toilet tissue and dental hygiene products that kids need every day. I made sure to purchase items that are always in need, and there are many items I would have liked to purchase that are still on the lists of these organizations, such as:

  • Diapers
  • Laundry detergent
  • cleaning supplies (bleach, sponges, mops, etc.)
  • Shampoo
  • Bar soap
  • Formula
  • Baby food
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • Box dinners
  • Shelf-ready Kitchen staples (Rice, flour, evaporated milk, oil, oats, etc)

These are all items you can easily find coupons for in your newspaper, in the latest issue of All You Magazine, or online at sites like Smartsource, Coupons.com, Redplum, Coupon Network and Kellogg’s Coupons.

Imagine if we all pitched in together to spend $25 (after savings) on items to donate locally! If not this month, remember the United States Postal Service is doing its annual Stamp Out Hunger drive, in which all you have to do is leave a package of goods just like these near your mailbox, and they’ll be donated to local hunger relief organizations. Imagine if we networked locally to make sure our organizations weren’t getting too much of the same items. Imagine how much of an impact this would make.

There are many more SIMPLE Service projects you can work on with Champions for kids. For more information, visit the following links:

Visit my Google + album for Couponing For Good to see all the details of my shopping trip.

Are you doing anything to be a Champion For Kids in your area? Let me know in the comments!

This post is compensated as part of a shopper insights study by Collective Bias. All opinions are mine.

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