While Black Friday often has a reputation for being aggressive, hectic and sometimes, downright dangerous, a group of Ohio women, lead by Joni Meyer-Crothers, have turned the day into an opportunity to give back to those in need.
According to CNN Money, Crothers and 16 of her friends and family -- dubbed her "coupon-tourage" -- assembled at her house Thanksgiving night last year to create a shopping strategy. Armed with wish lists from several needy families in the community, the group set out to find the desired items and donate the entire haul.
Thankfully, Crothers isn't new to coupon-cutting. She started extreme couponing four years ago when her husband lost his automotive factory job. Now, her finely honed couponing skills rack up $100,000 worth of free goods each year.
Crothers has also been featured on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” “The Today Show,” “Rachael Ray,” “FOX News” and AOL’s You’ve Got.
Needless to say, she takes shopping and saving seriously.
Crothers and her dedicated team started planning for this momentous day four months in advance. The coupon-tourage met six times between July and November to chart their course, looking for online deals or researching the stores offering the best sales.
When the big day finally came, Crothers split the group into smaller teams and gave each a big envelope. Inside was a list of what each team was responsible for, the necessary money, a back-up plan in case items sold out and a list of cars with extra trunk space.
"We met, said a prayer, told each other to be safe and then went on our way," said Vanessa Barker, an office manager at a Toledo high school and member of the coupon-tourage to CNN.
At 2 p.m. the next day, 17 hours after they'd started, the group met at Crothers' house to take inventory. They'd managed to buy every item on the list.
"It's exhausting, but the more deals you get, the more excited you get, and the purpose of giving back pumps you right back up," Barker told CNN. "Plus, a little bit of coffee keeps you going."
Crothers plans to do the whole thing agains this year for local families, but she's also been busy this month cutting coupons for Hurricane Sandy victims.
According to ABC News, a pastor from Times Square Church, one of the biggest churches in New York, reached out to Crothers, asking her to get a truck, fill it with food and get it to New York City by Sunday, November 4, 24 hours after the call. With the help of her local community Crothers was able to get a truck, load it with donations, and drive to New York to make the deadline.
However, she doesn't always wait for big events to give back. According to her local newspaper in Ohio, she is also known for regularly donating groceries and items to local charities. She even partnered with the Toledo Free Press last year to take a local mother on a holiday grocery shopping trip.
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