Heather Smith scours grocery stores weekly, coupons in hand, looking for deals. But last Saturday, her skills were used for the greater good.
The Dacula resident, a member of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, along with 29 other volunteers participated in the "Battle of the Buggies," a church-sponsored competition designed to purchase food for the Lawrenceville Co-Op and, at the same time, learn to save money through couponing.
The five-team event, which lasted one hour at a local Kroger and Publix, donated 365 items to the charity, worth more than $600, with each frugal team shopping on a tiny budget of $40. Kroger and Publix added to the donation, with each contributing $250 gift cards to the Co-op.
"(Couponing) is already something I'm passionate about," Smith, who enlisted help from her 13- and 9-year-old children, said, "and I wanted to show (the team) how easy it was and how if you pay attention you can help others."
Smith led the winning team, taking home $305.85 worth of groceries while spending $40.10. Those items included canned and boxed goods, granola bars and pasta, much needed staples for the food bank. Smith team's particularly provided them with a generous supply of their best deal.
"We got 45 boxes of Uncle Ben's rice for 17 cents a box," Smith said.
Lorraine Shaffer, a church member and an organizer for the service project, had little coupon experience before Saturday's event but as a volunteer at the Lawrenceville Co-Op, felt it was necessary to get involved.
"It's hard to believe it really works but you see it and think, 'Wow, this is really cool,'" Schaffer said. "Working at the Co-op, stocking shelves, I know when we are low and what we need so that's how it all came together for me."
The competition was born after Shaffer and two other volunteers attended the Clipping for a Cause class at the First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville. After Saturday's 'Battle,' the church hopes to begin a weekly class dedicated to donation coupon clipping.
"It was a lot of fun," Smith said. "The people in line behind us were so nice and being so patient so it was a great experience."