Couponing leads to charitable donation to family whose house burned

Amy DiPietro saved up these goods both for her family and for donations over the course of about eight weeks.
Amy DiPietro saved up these goods both for her family and for donations over the course of about eight weeks. Special to the Telegraph

A Macon woman decided to maximize her money with coupons, and she was able to help a family in need as a result.

Amy DiPietro took a couponing class several years ago, but she really didn’t put what she learned into practice until this summer, when she started talking to co-worker Brandi Robinson about the practice.

“It gave me somebody to bounce ideas off of,” she said.

DiPietro, a hospital/homebound teacher with the Bibb County school system, said it didn’t take long to pile up more toiletries and other home goods than her family needed. So she began donating to the Mentor’s Project of Bibb County, but it didn’t stop there.

“I have actually pulled out and donated to one house fire victim,” she said.

That was Chris Jennings, whose house in Jasper County burned down at the beginning of this school year. It was a total loss, which left him, his wife, Angie, and their twin 13-year-old daughters, Reese and Reagan, without a lot of what they needed.

That included toiletries and school supplies, such as paper and pencils.

“Things a lot of people take for granted,” Jennings said.

DiPietro learned of the Jennings’ situation through Facebook, and she started gathering the items that she had been stockpiling. What she didn’t have, she networked with other people to pull together because she wanted to help out someone after going through her own house fire 10 years ago.

“I just picked up and ran with it,” she said. “I was also able to rally together school supplies and book bags for his girls.”

The Jennings family is appreciative of the help, Jennings said, adding that he’d like to find ways to pass along the good deed down the road.

“We always try to help a lot of people anyway,” he said. “I never thought that I would be the one accepting donations.”

DiPietro wants to help other people gather goods at low cost for their own families and to help others through a couponing class she hopes to host in the coming weeks. That class won’t be all about how to get loads of items at low prices, though, like the “Extreme Couponing” television show.

Due to store policies at the local level, it’s not always possible to get hundreds of dollars in groceries for just a few dollars the way people do on reality television. For example, some Kroger locations may allow multiples of the same coupon to be used, but that isn’t the case here.

“The reality is that we can’t do that in Middle Georgia,” DiPietro said. “It’s extreme, and it’s rare.”

Furthermore, DiPietro advises people to follow etiquette when they use coupons. Some common practices, such as making copies of online coupons, can be illegal, while others, such as clearing a shelf of a particular item, just isn’t nice to other shoppers.

“We’re all in this together,” she said. “Think about your fellow man.”

Anyone interested in couponing or DiPietro’s class can email her at amy.cohen78@gmail.com.

Jeremy Timmerman: 478-744-4331, @MTJTimm

Couponing etiquette

1. Don’t clear the shelf.

2. Don’t make copies of “Internet printables.”

3. Don’t buy what you don’t need.