A charity founded by a 29-year-old Northern Virginia woman uses “extreme couponing” to feed the homeless.
Instead, the homegrown charity relies on coupons to stretch donations to the max.
During the past year, the group has fed about 6,500 homeless people, she said.
“We get the coupon inserts from the Sunday papers to shop for free items, items that are very steeply discounted, and what’s on sale,” she explained. Typical meals prepared by the group include spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and rice, hot dogs and baked beans.
Up to 10 volunteers cook and package the food and help distribute it to the “unsheltered” on weekends, Puryear told CNSNews.
“On my 29th birthday, we handed out 1,200 hot dogs, chips and soda to about 500 people in D.C. I thought that was a lot, but we had to tell about 50 homeless people that we did not have any more.”
She often takes her five-year-old son with her, she added, except when the group is planning to distribute meals in a dangerous location.
Puryear said she started the charity after her beloved grandmother, Marion “Nana” Smith, died in 2012.
“I lived with her growing up in Patterson, N.J., which was a rough area in terms of poverty, gun violence, gang violence. And she was always telling me how important it is to help others,” Puryear said. “So we always gave away our extra clothes and toys. After her passing, I decided to do something in her honor.”
The group’s mission comes from the Bible: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35)
"Our vision is a world in which every person attains the right to experience the love of Christ by seeing it deomonstrated in others," the group's website states. "Our motto is: Love God. Love others. Serve the world."
“I am a true believer that if the world would spread more love, the love of Christ, we would be living in a much better place!” said Puryear, a two-time cancer survivor.
Puryear, who was featured on the October 4 Steve Harvey Show, says her goal is to feed 30,000 people by the time she turns 30 on Sept. 14, 2017. The group’s next feeding is scheduled for October 30 in Richmond, Va., followed by stops in Baltimore, Md. and Charlotte, N.C. in November.
The group started out providing low-income people with back-to-school supplies, Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas presents. Last year, they began feeding the homeless near Puryear’s home in Woodbridge, Virginia – a suburb of Washington, D.C.
“We went to a tent city in Woodbridge where hundreds of homeless people were living, and we asked them what they needed. They said ‘food’,” she told CNSNews.
“There were families, single people, the learning disabled, retired veterans and those who lost their homes due to divorce or illness,” she said. “Here in Prince William County, it’s very expensive to live, and a lot of people don’t have the money for security deposits.
“We see a lot of depression, anxiety, addiction,” she continued. “But people come running when they see us. They’re always so grateful. They want to talk afterwards. Some ask for prayers. Some tell us that it’s the only conversation they’ve had that day and that us going out and feeding them gives them hope.”