It's coupon time,” I told my nine-year-old son, Nathan.

Nathan sat down, already holding a pair of scissors. “I love helping you cut out your coupons.”

I smirked. “Only because I share the proceeds with you.”

Couponing for Cash
We’d made the deal a few years before. Because I use so many store coupons, I keep track of my savings and treat it like “found” money.

Each time Nathan helped me clip my coupons, I spent a portion of the money we saved on something fun for him. We’d gone out for ice cream, seen movies, even bought the occasional Lego set with our couponing money.

It was a great deal for both of us. It saved me time, while giving Nathan the chance to earn a little cash. It also allowed us to spend extra time together.

As we cut the coupons, Nathan talked non-stop about what he wanted for Christmas that year.

“You’ve got quite the list,” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied. “I know I won’t get all of it, but that’s where my couponing money comes in.”

Helping Other Kids
Later that day, Nathan and I went to the grocery store. Standing outside was a Salvation Army kettle worker ringing the bell. “Can I have some money for the kettle?” Nathan asked.

I handed him a few dollars.

As Nathan put in the money, the man smiled and thanked us.

As we shopped, Nathan helped me match our coupons to the products in our cart. “I think we’re going to save a lot this time,” he said, waving the thick stack of coupons in the air.

He was right. After the clerk rang up our groceries, she said, “You saved $34.96.”

Nathan put up his hand to give me a high five. “We did great!”

I smiled, loving how excited he got over saving money.

Nathan was quiet for a minute and then said, “Mom, can I put my part of the couponing money in the kettle?”

Pride welled up inside me. “Really? You don’t want to save it for a treat like we usually do?”

“No. I want The Salvation Army to use it to help kids who don’t get treats very often.”

I smiled. “Let’s put all the couponing money in.”

“The Army could help a lot of kids then!” he said.

Nathan put our couponing money in the kettle, grinning from ear to ear.

Saving for Good
The following week, when we sat down to work on the coupons, I noticed that Nathan was cutting out every coupon, even those for items we never buy.

“Why did you cut out a coupon for diapers?” I asked him. “No one at our house wears those anymore.”

He laughed at his joke. “The more money we save, the more money we can put in the kettle, right?”

My mouth dropped open. “You’re going to donate your money this week, too?”

“Yeah, I thought that was our deal. At Christmastime, the couponing money goes in the kettle.”

I shook my head, amazed at my young son’s generosity. Then I picked up my scissors and got to work.

A hand puts a five-dollar bill in a Salvation Army kettle

Get Involved!

When you donate to a Christmas kettle, you are helping The Salvation Army bring an end to poverty.

“In Canada, one in seven people live in poverty,” says Delicia Carvery, a Salvation Army Christmas kettle co-ordinator in Toronto. “Funds raised through The Salvation Army’s Christmas kettles are critical to providing programs and services for vulnerable individuals and families in our communities who are struggling each and every day.”

There are many ways to get involved in The Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle campaign:

  • Donate to a Salvation Army Christmas kettle. No donation is too small. Your contribution will stay local and help children and families in need year-round. Don’t have spare change? Make your donation online at
  • Become a bell ringer. We’re looking for individuals to help ring those bells and stand by our Christmas kettles! This annual fundraising campaign relies on volunteers to collect donations for programs and services that improve the lives of those living in poverty. Sign up today.
  • Host your own kettle. In just a few easy steps, you can host and customize your own kettle page online at

—June Li

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