Overseas Coupon Program

In the fall of 2006, Abby Runk read an article in a local syndicated newspaper column. The article generated an idea for a new community service/restitution project. The Overseas Coupon Program garners volunteers to cut out and sort unwanted or expired grocery coupons for use by members of the military, stationed on overseas bases. Most bases have grocery stores on-grounds; however, the prices are often higher than those in the states. In order to compensate for the higher prices, these stores often accept coupons up to six months past their expiration dates.

Abby thought this would be a great project for the juveniles she works with; they would learn competency skills and work off community service hours for restitution credit, all while doing a great service for our families and friends across the world. The project was fairly simple to implement and relatively inexpensive, as the only out-of-pocket expense is the postage to ship the coupons. If a Coupon Project is completed successfully, up to $125 is credited to a juvenile's account and paid out as restitution to his/her victim(s). Such payments are paid through their victim fund, which is funded through the collection of certified summary fines from the MDJ’s offices and litter brigade allocations from PennDot. If a juvenile cannot complete his/her community service hours, due to illness, transportation issues, age, etc., the Coupon Project can also be used toward that obligation.

York County Juvenile Probation Department’s first shipment sent $3832.15 worth of coupons to Lakenheath AFB in the United Kingdom. Since that first shipment in January 2007, they have sent over $200,000 worth of coupons to Lakenheath. To date, over 200 projects have been completed and over $15,000 has been paid out to victims as a result of the Coupon Project. The York County Juvenile Probation Department has received several notes of thanks from the base, as well as in-person gratitude from members of the military.

More information on the Overseas Coupon Program can be found by clicking here.

Abby Runk can be contacted at AHRunk@york-county.org or call 717- 771-9567.

If you know of other unique project ideas, have any topics that you would like covered, or if you have any tips to share please email Betsy May at bmay@pa.gov