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High Ridge Brands insert

If you tend to skip over the ads and go right for the coupons in the Sunday inserts, you may have missed one company’s announcement in this past weekend’s SmartSource. High Ridge Brands, the maker of a number of personal care products, is making a unique pledge to help the less fortunate for every one of its coupons that consumers redeem.

The pledge comes in a full-page spread featuring coupons for Zest, Alberto VO5, White Rain, Coast and Rave. “Families in poverty often struggle to buy soap and shampoo,” the announcement reads. “You can help.”

For each of those coupons that is redeemed before it expires on March 15th, as well as printable coupons that are available on each brand’s website, High Ridge Brands says it will donate “one shower’s worth of product” to Family-to-Family, a hunger and poverty relief organization. Family-to-Family’s “Shower To The People” program collects and distributes personal care products to families in need.

“For families living in poverty depending on government-issued SNAP cards for their weekly groceries (formerly food stamps), these non-food everyday necessities can be hard to come by,” Family-to-Family explains. “That’s because while food items can be purchased with SNAP cards, non-food items can’t – meaning that if you’re poor, even a daily shower with soap and shampoo can be an unaffordable luxury.”

High Ridge Brands says it has already donated a million showers’ worth of Zest, VO5 and other products to the program, and is looking to couponers to help donate up to two million more. “Our donations will help provide these families with high quality personal cleansing products to start their day off with the positive feeling of confidence and dignity that comes from being clean and looking great,” High Ridge Brands CEO James Daniels said in announcing the donations.

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(If you’re curious, High Ridge Brands calculates that a half-ounce of shampoo, conditioner and body wash equals one shower, as does an eighth of an ounce of bar soap. So if you use all eight coupons in the Sunday insert, that’s enough to donate four ounces of shampoo or one bar of soap. Multiply that by multiple couponers, and three million showers equals a whole lot of soap.)

To the New York Times, Daniels explained that the promotion makes good business sense, too. “Our goal is that eventually this group will move up the economic tier, and hopefully they’ll go from receiving these products for free to buying them.”

High Ridge Brands’ products, Daniels said, are “value-segment brands” that are largely castoffs from other companies. Zest, for example, used to be a Procter & Gamble product. Alberto VO5 and Rave were owned by Unilever. And Coast was a Dial product, before High Ridge Brands acquired them all and started marketing them together. So the promotion is as much about introducing the products to those who might buy them in the future, as it is about reintroducing them to consumers who can buy them now. “How can we start to aggregate our brands in a manner that consumers who are using Zest can also be introduced to a VO5?” Daniels told the Times. “It’s about bringing these iconic brands back to the front of the minds of consumers.”

So the promotion is not entirely altruistic – Daniels has a business to run, after all – but that’s not to discount the effect it could have, both in helping others and in raising awareness about some of the little-known challenges facing those in need. Visitors to Family-to-Family’s website can make a one-time, or recurring, donation of $15 to supply a needy family with personal care items for a month.

This effort is not the first time that coupons have been linked to charitable efforts. Several online coupon sites, including Coupons for Change, Common Kindness and Save1.com, donate money for every coupon that’s printed or redeemed.

So if you don’t have a huge stockpile of “free-after-coupon” items that you can donate to the needy, now you can help just by using coupons like you always do. And High Ridge Brands, Family-to-Family, and the struggling citizens who will benefit from this promotion and others like it, will thank you for it.

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