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My Frugal Life - Giving Back

I went out into the world and started supporting myself at age 15. At age 22, after a disastrous teenage marriage, I became a single mom and learned frugality out of necessity. I learned to swallow my pride and accept "handouts" to keep my child fed and clothed. I remarried at 25 and have now been married more than 20 years. The main thing I have learned, I think, is compassion. While I grumble at the rising costs of gasoline, etc, I am not seriously in danger of becoming homeless or of going hungry... but so many others are. Perhaps because I was once there myself, I feel that I cannot turn my back on those in need.

My Frugal Life

One thing that I feel passionate about is donating school supplies to families who cannot afford to buy them for their children. I vividly remember when my son (now almost 30) was starting kindergarten and I was barely scraping by as a newly single Mom. I literally burst into tears in the school supplies aisle of K-mart when I realized that there was NO WAY I could afford to buy the required supplies, even at that grade level, unless I skipped buying groceries or paying the rent. I vowed then and there that once I got back on my feet, I would try to spare other Moms from having to experience that. So now I buy all the "loss leader" school supplies at all the stores for several weeks leading up to the start of school, and donate them to those in need.

I also purchase clearance items all year long and make up Christmas "goodie bags" which I deliver to our local County Home each December to the destitute, mostly elderly residents. I use coupons and my finely honed bargain hunting skills to fill a grocery sack with non-perishable food items, which I drop off at a local food pantry roughly once a month.

There's a quote I love from Mother Theresa: "Not all of us can do great things -- but all of us can do small things, with great love."

Lucky One from IN

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August 14, 20060 found this helpful

What an inspiration you are to me. I have the same quote on my business card from Mother Theresa! I am a dog groomer. I will put my mind to this and make some phone calls. I have always been lucky to have a dollar in my pocket my entrire 48 years.

Good thoughts coming your way.

edie in KY

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August 15, 20060 found this helpful

You have done yourself proud.

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August 15, 20060 found this helpful

I enjoyed reading your story. You are a loving spirit --something the world needs many more of.

Thanks so much for the quote from Mother Theresa. I will share it with my yoga students.

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August 15, 20060 found this helpful

So far for this school year, I have a paper grocery sack that is bursting at the seams with folders, notebook paper, pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, erasers, crayons, etc. It's probably close to $40 worth of stuff, and I think I have spent maybe $7, by buying the loss leaders at each store (like crayons for .03 at Staples a couple weeks ago). I plan to drop it off tomorrow at the elementary school I pass every day on my way to work, which is also the school in my area with the highest percentage of kids in the free lunch program (meaning financial need).

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August 16, 20060 found this helpful

You are a TERRIFIC person! I know you had hard times and now you can help someone else. This is what life is all about! I'm an artist and also have health problems, I was poor off and on as a child. I know my parents did their best, thats all you can do. If more people thought about others like YOU, this world would be a much better place! I give you a lot of credit for being so careing and loving! Every summer I donate art supplies to the school for homeless children. If we all helped a little a lot can be done! Mother Theresa is so right, what an angel!

Best Wishes to you :)

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August 16, 20061 found this helpful

This has made you the person you are today.

As Follows: Loving, Caring & Sharing.

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August 17, 20060 found this helpful

Thank you all for your comments. It seems to me that so many people think "I'm not rich, the little bit I can do wouldn't help" -- but if you put together that "little bit" from enough people, it CAN help. And if by telling my story, I influence a few people to do something similar in their own neighborhoods, then the idea will spread like ripples in a pond.

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August 17, 20060 found this helpful

God will surely bless you now and in the hereafter---"in as much as you do unto the least of them , you do it unto Me"

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August 18, 20060 found this helpful

I wish there were many more like you! I do not have kids but buy those school supplies each year faithfully for those who can't buy. I can't imagine how you must have felt yet you made a sad moment positive in looking to future to help others. God Bless you.

Thank you for that quote. I am posting it in my kitchen.

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