Cutting Out Poverty

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Maybe you clip coupons. It never hurts to save a few bucks at the grocery store or oil-change center. We know a woman who spends eight hours a day clipping coupons. She’s not just saving money, she’s helping save lives – and livelihoods – in the backwoods of Kentucky.

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Natsound: cutting labels

With every snip, Pat Greer does some good for someone—a child, an elderly shut-in, a low-income father who has the same hopes for his child as parents everywhere …

Father: “Growing, getting bigger, staying healthy.”

… though not as many dreams, perhaps. Physical, social and economic isolation are common in this region of Appalachia and Pat Greer is making a difference by trimming and grouping Campbell’s canned goods labels …

Pat Greer / Red Bird Missionary Conference: “These are bundles of 500.”

… eight hours a day. The labels are redeemed for merchandise through Campbell’s long- running “Labels For Education” program.

Pat Greer: “The boxes average around 70,000 a box.”

A few boxes can turn into new computers, VCRs, textbooks, software and other supplies for Pat’s employer, the United Methodist Red Bird Missionary Conference in eastern Kentucky. Last year, 1 and a half million labels turned into a van for Red Bird’s schools and outreach programs. In fact, it was the 22nd such vehicle the center has bought with soup coupons since this all began two decades ago. 

So, Pat Greer just keeps cutting.

Pat Greer: “ I have a numb thumb. I have a big callous on this finger from cutting labels.”

The labels come in from thousands of donors, individuals and United Methodist congregations. Without them, and folks like Pat Greer, Red Bird couldn’t begin to offer the kind of help it provides to 10 thousand people across the hills and “hollers” of Appalachia.

Pat Greer: “It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”

One label at a time.


Mrs. Greer moved to Appalachia a few years ago—a leap of faith, she says, after her husband died. She felt that she could make a difference to people there without knowing “how.” Who could have guessed it would be with a pair of scissors? She lives with her daughter, who is involved in the Red Bird educational program.