Author, Extreme Couponing (2013)
Star of hit TLC show, Extreme Couponing
Married to Jamie for 16 years
Seven children (three biological, four adopted)
Extreme Couponing with Joni Meyer-Crothers
Joni was five years old when a missionary came to her church and talked about world hunger. The missionary stressed how everyone should help feed hungry people. Joni remembers thinking to herself, “I will! I’m going to help change the world by feeding the hungry.” This desire to help feed the hungry was always something on her mind and weighed heavily on her heart. Twenty years ago, Joni was going through a divorce and became a single mom of three children whom she was unable to feed. “There were nights I gave up my food so my kids could have a little bit more,” shares Joni. It was a horrible time trying to choose between food and hygiene products. Joni says, “I was never mad at God; I just didn’t understand why I was going through that tough time.” She told God when she got through her financial difficulties she would help others who were struggling. When Joni got a job doing medical transcription work out of her home, her financial situation improved and she was able to feed her children again.
Two years later, Joni met Jamie whom she married in 1996. After two miscarriages, they decided to adopt four children. Things were great for their family until Jamie lost his job in 2007. He got laid off from an automotive factory when the economy went bad. With seven children and a husband out of work, Joni needed to make their dollars stretch. A friend showed her how to get a couple of items free at the store just by using two coupons. After that Joni was hooked. Within two weeks, Joni acquired more than three thousand dollars’ worth of food for which she only paid a little over a hundred dollars. She thought, “This isn’t couponing, this is a ministry.” Her desire to help make a difference and feed the hungry which had been placed on her heart thirty five years earlier was finally coming to fruition.
JONI GIVING BACK
Today, with couponing, Joni’s family gets about five thousand dollars’ worth of groceries a month for about two hundred dollars and then donates eighty percent of it. Joni and Jamie started an open pantry in their garage. They have a commercial freezer filled with meats, frozen vegetables, breakfast food and frozen dinners. They have a refrigerator filled with milk, butter, eggs, cheese and juice. The shelves in the garage are stocked with nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and laundry detergent. Joni notified her church and community that if anyone had need of these items she would supply them with the access code to the garage. This way those in need could come over day or night and just let themselves in and take what they needed. “All we ask is that, when they’re in a better position, they pass the blessing on to others,” shares Joni.
In March 2011, Joni got a call from Sharp Entertainment. They asked if she had ever heard of the TLC show “Extreme Couponing.” Some families from her church had nominated her to be on the show. After prayerful consideration, Joni agreed to do the show as long as she could be herself and donate a hundred percent of what was bought on the show to charity. They agreed and filming began a few weeks later. In just four episodes, Joni was able to donate fourteen thousand dollars’ worth of products that cost her just forty-five dollars. Plus, another ten thousand dollars from the Black Friday special that only cost two thousand; everything went to less fortunate families for Christmas.
Couponing has allowed Joni to help hundreds of people. She has donated thousands of dollars worth of products to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Joni says when disaster strikes you don’t have to send money. You can send the items you gathered couponing and use all the money you’ve saved to pay for the shipping.” She believes everyone can help others in need. Joni encourages people to take her 5-item challenge by donating five items (either nonperishable or hygienic) a week to a local food bank, a shelter, or someone you know who is in need. She says lives can be changed by your generosity. When you use coupons she says you are getting items for free or at the very least, really cheap, and that gives you the freedom to be able to help others who are in need.
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