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BFA volunteer leads coupon book effort to help agency, stimulate economy

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Charles Giordano of Sunset Beach has found an original way to raise money for Brunswick Family Assistance that may also help local businesses during tough times.

According to BFA Executive Director Joe Cannon, BFA is facing an unprecedented number of requests and diminished donations in the midst of the economic recession.

“I realized that everybody’s going to be asking everyone else for money or items in one way or another,” Giordano said recently. “I thought that wouldn’t work too well now. We have to become entrepreneurs.”

So he proposed an idea to BFA: Raising money for the agency by selling coupon books, which would save buyers money in the long run while providing income for BFA and much-needed customers for local businesses.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Cannon said this week. “He’s got an entrepreneurial bent that’s exciting. He’s able to mobilize a lot of volunteers.”

For nearly a decade, Giordano has been spearheading an annual plant sale with profits benefiting BFA. Cannon wasn’t surprised when he came up with another money-raising idea.

To begin the process, Giordano enlisted a group of volunteers willing to solicit merchant participation, and put together three books—one aimed at men, another at women and another featuring deals on home supplies.

“I asked them to place a coupon in our book with an inducement for people to come in and try out their business,” Giordano explained. “I spent about two weeks day and night with many helpers… We didn’t even ask them for money to put the coupons in the book.

They had nothing to lose and everything to gain. They would draw customers and make money.”

Each book will contain about 45 coupons, mostly for businesses in southern Brunswick County, and a few from North Myrtle Beach, S.C. They are expected to be available for sale this weekend at a price of $10 each.

In addition to providing income for BFA, other nonprofits including Hope Harbor Home, Brunswick County Literacy Council and Habitat for Humanity will also sell the books and will split the revenue evenly with BFA.

“It’s a great thing seeing the nonprofits collaborating,” Cannon noted. “It’s an exciting thing for Brunswick County in tough times.”

The coupon books will be available at the BFA office in Shallotte, local churches that participate in food pantries and other local venues.

With the demand for food and utility assistance at an all-time high, Cannon said he couldn’t praise the volunteers’ initiative enough.

“This is kind of a win-win,” he said. “You support local businesses and local nonprofits. We’re both in tough times. And you’re helping the clients as well.”