Why donate $50 to a local charity when you can cleverly spend that same $50 to purchase $500 worth of items for a donation?

Why donate $50 to a local charity when you can cleverly spend that same $50 to purchase $500 worth of items for a donation?

That's what Sunbury resident Rodney Osborne asked himself before he began donating items to numerous local charities by using local store sales and coupons to purchase the goods for pennies on the dollar.

Osborne said he began "ex-treme couponing" when his family was dealing with financial difficulties during the recession. His family has since recovered; now he's using his skills for charity.

"A small donation can help a lot of people," he said. "I am hoping to kill two birds with one stone: Donate to charity and teach those in need how to get more bang for their buck."

Osborne said he wants others to know the tricks of the trade, and isn't hoarding all the secrets to himself.

He starts by collecting 10 or more Sunday newspapers, which are loaded with coupons.

He's even able to go to certain stores and purchase newspapers for half the price as other stores.

"I even get a discount on the coupons," he said, laughing.

He then finds out which stores are having sales and which stores have double-coupon days. He then uses his coupons to buy many items for next to nothing.

Last week, he purchased 50 boxes of Kellogg's cereal for 9 cents a box using store sales and numerous coupons.

Osborne said he is always able to get razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes for free, paying just sales tax.

He was able to purchase 176 school-supply items to donate for under $5, according to his most recent donation calculations.

He said he spends two to three weeks collecting items, then makes a donation to a local charity. Lately, he has been donating to People in Need, Friends Who Share in Sunbury, the Common Ground Free Store and nearby churches.

His most recent donation included boxed pasta and potatoes, razors, toothpaste, eye drops, aspirin, school supplies, deodorant, cereal bars, sausages and feminine products. He purchased the items for a grand total of $37.17; had he purchased them at full price, he would have spent $975.06, he said.

Osborne said he hopes the couponing trend will take off locally and help those in need get more items for less money. He said he believes if the people who rely on local charities would use his tips, it would decrease their dependency on some of the organizations.

"Twenty dollars can turn into hundreds of dollars," he said. "Everyone needs to take advantage of this. These sales and coupons will always be there."

He recommends beginner couponers start by collecting at least five Sunday newspapers, then gathering information and tips from a website called We Use Coupons.

Some of Osborne's top tips: Always pay attention to sales, always use coupons and get organized.

"This is a great way to help those around you in need and it's a great way to build our community," he said. "We didn't always receive help when we had a need, but I want to make sure others receive help."

He encourages those who want to donate to charity to use couponing strategies in order to donate even more.

"I take $50 I was going to donate anyways and multiply it," he said. "Instead of helping one family, I'm helping multiple families."