In Luke 9:12-17 we read about how Jesus sent his disciples to go out and preach the word of God and heal the sick. Soon the crowds gathered and the disciples found themselves trying to figure out how to feed a multitude of thousands with only five loaves and two fish. As a planner I can only imagine the logistics behind it!
Though I may be off on my number of loaves and fish, I can make up for it in coupons.
Last year, I came across a television show called “Extreme Couponing.” It highlights people who are dedicated to getting the best deal for their dollar by clipping coupons. In some instances they pay as low as $20.00 for three carts full of groceries. They even had what they referred to as “stock piles” shelves of food in their basements, garage or even in a bedroom if space was limited. My first thought was this has got to be a hoarding tendency; how can someone have so much? Wouldn’t this go to waste? Then I saw an episode that featured families who would “coupon” to help not only themselves, but their relatives, community, local congregations and food pantries.
Some congregations like United Lutheran in Schnecksville, PA, even have a “Coupon Ministry” where people can drop off and pick up coupons.
Now a day everyone is trying to make that dollar stretch to make it go just a little further. I don’t know about you, but I myself wouldn’t mind saving a few dollars here and there which I can then save and/or donate. I was determined to see how couponing really worked. I’m always up for a challenge so; I set out to buy my first stack of newspapers. After spending less than 2 hours a week planning and preparing for my shopping trips, I now have a better grasp on this couponing phenomenon. Though I may not walk out with three carts full of groceries, I have paid on average between .98 – $1.50 per item and have started a stockpile of my own.
I admit I do love the thrill of the hunt, yet I am always aware that I have a responsibility to those around me, and even in a time where the middle class has shifted in the United States and the poor continue to struggle, let us remember that in Luke 9:13-14, Jesus said, “You feed them.”
While it’s easier to spend the time looking at those things that we do not have, it is best to use that energy to explore that which we do have and use those resources that are available to us. I may not have loaves and fishes, but I do have coupons and I can use them to help multiply what I have to help those around me.
What resources do you possess that can help those around you? How do you help multiply them to help others?
Gabriela Contreras is director for meeting planning.