The Overseas coupon Project was founded in December 1992. It began with a small idea...
When Becky Thane and her husband were stationed overseas with the Army, they realized a definite need in the lower enlisted ranks -- they need more money! Many of these younger soldiers are now married, unlike in years past, and have young families. The meager salary of a junior enlisted soldier is barely sufficient for subsistence. Many of these families would qualify for Food Stamps, WIC, and other State-based assistance if they were stationed State-side; however, these programs are not offered overseas, even to military
members stationed there by no choosing of their own. They obviously could not raise enough money to make a difference in this vast number of people's lives, so the question was, what could they do to help?
They knew that many military family support centers overseas offer coupon exchanges. They also knew that military commissaries (grocery stores) overseas would accept manufacturer's cents-off coupons for up to six months past their printed expiration dates.
In December 1992 Becky Thane began sending expired coupons to her former post in Germany. In a few short months, the members of the U.S.S. Infinity (a chapter of Starfleet: The International Star Trek Fan Association) learned of the effort and began participating. Shortly after that, while reporting at a Regional Starfleet meeting of our activities, several other chapters expressed an interest in doing the same.
The Project snowballed! Becky contacted several military posts overseas; all were willing to distribute any coupons we could send. The Overseas Coupon Project quickly spread to many other chapters of Starfleet.
The OCP now proudly encompasses organizations and people from all walks of life -- not only Star Trek fans, but also churches, daycare centers, retirement homes, State-side military bases, other fan clubs, and countless dedicated individuals donating to more than 30 military bases overseas through the Project.
The Overseas Coupon Project incorporated in The State of Texas in April 1996 as a non-profit, charitable corporation. This action was undertaken to better reflect the increasingly wide range of people and organizations participating in the Project, and to provide a benefit to the donors to the OCP. We were granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity status by the I.R.S. on October 27, 1998.
With recent acts of Congress to increase active duty military pay (raises on both October 1, 2001 and January 1, 2002), and Congress' commitment to continue increasing military pay over the next several years, the vast majority of active duty service families now live above the Federal poverty level. However, just because the Overseas Coupon Project no longer met the needs test to qualify as a Federal tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization doesn't mean that we completely stopped our efforts.
Contributions to the Overseas Coupon Project were halted, effective June 30, 2002. However, Edward Allen III, OCP Representative for over four years, has volunteered to take on the day-to-day operations of a revised OCP. This revised program now works to facilitate the shipping of coupons directly to our military bases.
It is easy for Americans living state-side to forget about the people diligently serving our country overseas, but they need our help. Please, spread the word. Tell your friends, tell your family. The OCP can always use donations of coupons, and there is no cost to you but the cost of shipping your donations directly overseas. But without these coupons, the cost to our military families serving overseas could be malnutrition and hunger. Thank you