Bridget Fink, born and raised in Wayne County, now lives in Lycoming County and fills her limited spare time with couponing for the greater good.
Bridget made her biggest donation to date recently. She donated 300 toothpastes, 100 new glucose diabetes meters, 20 boxes of aspirin, Maybelline eyeliner, Efferdent and fly strips to the "Shepard of the Streets" in Williamsport.
The organization "helps those on the streets, confronting fear, hunger, homelessness, unemployability or other difficulties."
Bridget has also made donations to Toys for Tots, local Children and Youth Christmas Programs and her local food bank at St. Joseph the Worker Parish and to the battered women's shelter at the YWCA.
"Both organizations are close to my heart for various reasons. Just because someone needs help, doesn't mean they're any less. Not long ago I was asking for help. It feels good that I can now give back," she said.
After being laid off in 2009 from her first professional position following graduation from college, Bridget learned to be frugal fast. Two years ago Bridget started couponing to try and help feed her family, her mother-in-law and her sister.
Her mother-in-law is a single mom of two children, one who lives with Down Syndrome and Autism.
"My sister was heading off for college and we all know how expensive that is! Additionally, my mother-in-law struggles because my brother has a circadian rhythm disorder which is common in special needs children. This makes my brother stay awake for up to 36 hours at a time. My mother in law can't work and relies on us to help her," said Fink.
Bridget quickly built a stockpile of shampoo, body wash and candles. Eventually she learned how to coupon food for free and has recently graduated to being paid to shop. Yes, stores give her money back.
"It's getting harder to find free items as coupon fraud is leading to stores creating stricter coupon policies. I just hope stores see this article and realize that they're making hard for those of us that are legally practicing the art and giving back."
Bridget works full time in corrections in Lycoming County, but still finds time to manage her online business (www.briggybandz.com), coupon and volunteer.
"After a day in jail, I need an escape, to debrief and see some positivity," she said.
Bridget has volunteered since she was a young girl, obtaining 1,000 hours of community service and many awards by high school.
"My first semester of college cost my grandmother $46, as I couponed college. Actually, they were scholarships that I received from volunteering, but it's the same idea! I found ways to save money by giving back."
Page 2 of 2 - Bridget is a member of the American Criminal Justice Association and is a volunteer for Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) and volunteers annually at National Police Week in Washington D.C.
"My husband has worked within the Marcellus Shale boom for a few years now and it has allowed me to give back exponentially. Fortunately, I see the positive points of the industry that many misinformed people fail to see. I saw Halliburton shoveling mud during the flood, using their advanced suspension systems in the trucks to navigate roads washed away to deliver food and offer donations to people to restock their food spoiled during power outages. They're so much more involved than just the anti-frac campaigns shoved down neighborhoods throats. Many are local family men," says Fink.
In addition to couponing, she makes her own laundry detergent, body wash and soap. Her 100 percent essential oil body wash can be found on her website.
Bridget is going to continue helping those in need and urges people to check out her Facebook Coupon site: facebook.com/PACouponing. You can message the group on Facebook if your family has a specific need.
"We may be able to help. I have a few friends that share the obsession."
Fink is the granddaughter of Alicia McLain and the niece of Peggy Pulici, both of Hawley and a graduate of Wallenpaupack High School and Mansfield University.