Kimberly Gager’s extreme couponing has helped 35 families and groups affected by Hurricane Harvey so far.
These coupons aren’t just saving money. They’re saving lives.
San Antonio mother of three Kimberly Gager has always had an eye for a bargain, and now she’s using her coupon-stacking skills to give hurricane victims daily essentials like diapers, baby food, bottled water and personal hygiene products.
Gager, a government employee and Army veteran, has been clipping coupons and buying basic necessities in bulk for about five years now, stacking the dozens of rolls of paper towels and toilet paper, laundry detergent and toothpaste in her garage. She boasts getting Crest 3D Whitening toothpaste ($4) for free, or Oil of Olay body wash ($6) for 75 cents, by watching the sales and combining store and manufacturer coupons.
“I was already sharing the wealth, sending off boxes of supplies to wounded vets, or college boxes to kids during the semester,” Gager, 39, told Moneyish. “So when I saw the devastation from the hurricane on TV, I said, ‘You know what? I can at least go out and buy diapers and wipes for the babies, and look at what their parents might need.’”
This is a stretch but anybody know of Irma evacuees in the SAN ANTONIO area? Tell them to hit my inbox. #HarveyRelief #IrmaRelief #ImReadt
Gager began handing out the stores from her garage, and says she has spent about $3,500 on supplies for hurricane victims so far. But the coupon queen has saved $4,000 during her charitable shopping trips. And she credits the friends, family and perfect strangers, who have sent her about $3,000 over PayPal and counting, for continuing to help fund this recovery effort.
“They’re the real heroes, because they are actually entrusting me with their donations to go out and do what I said I was going to do,” said Gager, who has been posting pictures of her receipts and streaming her shopping trips over Facebook Live so that donors can see where the money is going. “The other night I saved $1,449 in one shopping trip, and I had to take pictures of me with that long receipt wrapped around my neck,” she laughed.
She brushes off claims that she’s a hero, however, even as broadcast networks have filed into her home to interview her about her charitable couponing. “I’m absolutely not,” she told Moneyish. “I know how it feels to lose everything, and I’m just doing what I can to help.”
In 1999, her Newport News, Virginia apartment was destroyed by Hurricane Floyd. “It was depressing. It was horrific,” she said. “My oldest son and I had nothing but the clothes on our backs, because everything was underwater.”
Her now 25-year-old son helps sort the cases of supplies in the garage, while her 7-year-old daughter comes along on the shopping trips, and her 16-year-old son unloads the car.
Gager estimates she’s helped about 35 families or groups of people so far, driving to the shelters and hotels where evacuees are hunkering down to deliver the goods herself. She was preparing to to deliver some boxes to 10 nurses staying in a San Antonio hotel after getting off the phone with Moneyish. She also posts what items she has available on Facebook, and invites displaced Texans who are returning home to swing by her place to pick up what they need.
But why was EVERYBODY looking at me crazy though? 🤣🤣🤣 Keep the donations coming and I'll keep buying diapers!!PayPal is: Kimberlygager@yahoo.com
She’s not the only local hero rolling up her sleeves to help the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the south. Several kids have raised thousands of dollars with lemonade stands. Dominic DeSantis, 10, squeezed out $2,000 in North Carolina. A group of kids in Houston raised $400 at first – and then a donor dropped off a $10,000 check on top of that.
A Houston woman who had just put her house on the market has let a family from her church left homeless by Harvey live in her place until they get back on their feet.
And a Miami nun went viral after being photographed clearing Irma debris with a chainsaw while dressed in her habit.
“I think that no matter who we are, what political party we are, we’re all still part of the United States, and we really need to help our neighbors,” said Gager. “Now that everyone – black, white, Hispanic, Democratic, Republican – is seeing the devastation from these storms, they are like, ‘let’s put this aside for a little bit, and let’s get this done.”
© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved