Some people make “to-do” lists of things they want to achieve before they get to a certain age. Usually it’s something like going skydiving or traveling. But as her 30th birthday approached, Lauren Puryear, of Woodbridge, Virginia, set a different kind of goal for herself:
She wanted to feed 30,000 homeless people.
It’s a surprisingly ambitious and selfless goal to set, but Puryear has always been a giving person. For a living, she works with adults with mental health issues.
But her charitable side really came out starting in 2012—after her grandmother passed away. She said she wanted to continue her grandmother’s work of helping the local homeless.
“If she saw someone panhandling, she’d pull over and talk to them—not just give them money, but make sure they were OK,” Puryear told Today.
“I felt it was my obligation to keep her legacy going.”
She was shaped by her grandmother’s example, and also hopes she can pass it along to her own 5-year-old son.
“It is very important to teach him to help other people,” she told NJ.com. “The little things we take for granted, the food we throw away every day.”
“And if we just spread a little more love around, the world would be such a better place.”
So she set out to feed all the homeless people she could. Her initial goal was 3,000 meals before her 30th birthday—but she surprised herself when she hit that goal in only one month.
So she pumped it up to 30,000.
“Everyone said, ‘you’re crazy, that’s going to be insane.'” she told Good Day DC.
Maybe it was. Puryear was doing all of this on her own time, out of her own pocket. It would be a huge undertaking—until she discovered a trick to make everything easier:
Puryear realized she could make far more meals for less money by collecting coupons for local supermarkets—a common pennysaving hobby, used for a good cause.
“My first couponing experience ever was canned vegetables,” Puryear told ABC News. “I was able to get them for four cents a can at Dollar General so I bought 420 cans and I added chicken and rice to that meal.”
“I figured if I could coupon for the vegetables I could coupon for everything.”
She put her plan into action. She would have her friends and family collect ads from local circulars. Puryear would crunch the numbers, then head out to the store and grab a massive haul of groceries.
The money-saving venture was still an intense labor of love.
“I can spend anywhere from five to 10 hours a week,” she said. “Some stores have limits on how much you can buy, so sometimes I have to get my friends to come with me to buy it and bring their cars so we can transport it.”
But Puryear quickly began to see how many mouths she could feed—for such a low cost.
She began to feel she found her calling.
“After I couponed for 50 jars of Ragu sauce and 100 boxes of Barilla pasta all for free I knew I was going to make a difference in the world,” she told Scary Mommy.
Not only does Puryear shop for the homeless, she cooks and serves the meals, too. She set up an organization called For the Love of Others, and they reach out to the homeless communities—even setting up tables outside to serve people without shelters.
“I first research locations where there is a homeless population and then look at the laws to make sure I’m able to serve in public,” she told Today. “And then I just go to the area and let people know I’m there.”
She also says it’s about more than the food—it’s about communication, and knowing what they really need.
“We pride ourselves in going out and talking, interacting” she explained to WUSA9. “What is it that you need? We pour into the lives of other people. Sometimes people ask for prayer. Sometimes people ask to be linked to different community resources.”
So exactly how extreme is her couponing? Good Day DC asked Puryear her cash-to-food ratio, and her answer is astounding:
“Roughly under $2,000 for 65,000 meals.”
It’s an amazing effort, and she totally smashed her target of 30,000 meals. Many people donate to help feed the homeless, but Puryear can make that money go incredibly far.
“We take pride in providing quality meals,” Puryear told Today.
“All the time, I hear, ‘Thank you, this is the first meal we’ve had in a couple of a days.’”
ICYMI… This lady set a goal one year ago to serve 30,000 meals to the homeless by the time she turned 30 using "Intense Couponing." Not only did she reach it, but FAR exceed it. #Awesome….Lauren Puryear, Lauren Puryear, For the Love of Others, #Homeless, #Coupon, #IntenseCouponing Larry Miller, Mikea Turner.
Posted by Evan Koslof on Friday, September 15, 2017