By KATHY CHANG
WOODBRIDGE — Marion Elizabeth “Nana” Smith taught her grandchildren that loving one another would make the community a better place.
“We grew up in Paterson, not really the best place,” said Lauren Puryear.
Now, as an adult, Puryear, 29, of Woodbridge, has taken her grandmother’s teachings to heart.
“As a mom, I want to teach my son the same way,” she said.
In memory of her grandmother, who passed away in 2012, Puryear created For the Love of Others LLC, an organization that seeks to empower, enrich and enhance the lives of people from all backgrounds by providing opportunities to enable them to live a purposeful life.
The organization’s projects started out small with creating Thanksgiving baskets filled with gravy, rolls and more to feed 10 families and then it grew to a Christmas wish list.
However, Puryear said her efforts led her to heartbreak.
“I had to turn people away because I was doing this out of my own pocket and I was on a fixed income,” she said adding that she prayed for the answer on how to help more people.
Eight months ago, Puryear was led to the answer — couponing.
“Now I’m able to feed hundreds of people,” she said.
Puryear examines the Sunday paper, which includes coupon inserts. She sifts through the coupons and matches them up to the stores.
“I can help people at little to no expense,” she said.
To date, Puryear has helped 5,572 people from Paterson and Newark to people in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia areas.
Puryear said she cooks the food in her kitchen and stores nonperishable foods.
“There’s [only] so much that I can store so sometimes I will donate a box of food items to the local shelter if I’m not able to cook it,” she said.
Puryear said she receives help from her family and friends in her continuous efforts to bring awareness to social issues like poverty and homelessness.
She said when it is time to give out the food, she utilizes social media to reach out to the community.
“The people are so appreciative and grateful,” said Puryear. “For some people, it’s their first meal that they had in a while.”
For the Love of Others LLC provides outpatient therapy services, mental health therapy, prayer and ministry, homeless services, “CHRISTmas Dreams Come True,” a Thanksgiving drive and “Bless the Children,” a new project that provides items to mothers in need.
For more information visit http://fortheloveofothers.net.