Most people mark milestone birthdays with a fancy dinner, a party, or maybe even a weekend away with friends. But Lauren Puryear decided to do something different. Last year, when she was 29 years old, she decided to make a somewhat unique birthday plan — to feed 30,000 people before her 30th birthday. And she set out to achieve her unique birthday plan in an even more unique way – with extreme couponing.
When we first introduced you to Puryear last fall, she had delivered 5,000 meals to people in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and surrounding areas by clipping coupons for staples and shopping in bulk.
“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.
And make a difference she did — because she just completed her goal of feeding 30,000 people – and she hasn’t even turned 30-years-old yet. With the big 3-0 coming in September, who knows how high the number could reach.
“I will keep on feeding until then and see what number I can get up to,” she said. “Maybe 300,000!”
For the past several months, Puryear and the organization For Love of Others, which she launched to provide food and other essentials to the homeless population, has been traveling up and down the eastern seaboard delivering food to unsheltered residents, shelters, and other human service programs. They’ve also given uncooked meals to families in need, weekend meal bags to children in schools, and a green eggs and ham meal for some preschools in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
The inspiration for For Love of Others, and the birthday goal, came from Puryear’s grandma. “[My grandmother] always taught us to help other people and to love other people,” she said. “I know that she would want me to carry on her legacy.”
Even though she’s met her goal, she has no plans of stopping her quest to make a difference in the world. In fact, she’s already launched a new initiative.
“During my experiences traveling to different cities, I saw that we were not just feeding the homeless,” Puryear said. “We were also providing meals for the everyday working American who is living at or below the poverty line so I am starting a new initiative called Push Past Poverty, where I will aim to educate those in need on how to rise above the poverty line by utilizing community resources, coupons, and other tools.”
In addition to help from family and friends, and support from people around the world, Puryear often has an adorable sidekick with her when she delivers the meals – her six-year-old son.
“He’s really grown into such a little humanitarian,” she said. “He’s learned that helping others should be a part of our everyday lives, and learned the importance of not throwing food away. I hope he’ll continue to help others throughout his life however he sees fit. He also also learned how to coupon — which he loves.”
Given the string of depressing headlines in the news these days, it can be easy to feel paralyzed by it all. What can I possibly do to help?, is a common default response to all the troubles of the world, whether it’s homelessness, refugees, foster children, the environment, or what-have-you. But Puryear is proof positive that every person can do something and that every little bit counts. A coupon here, a coupon there, and before long she had fed more than 30,000 people. Talk about inspirational.
“Write down your vision and stick to it,” Puryear recommends. “And do not stop until you reach your goal.”
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