A group of women from our church is headed to Honduras next month, and they asked the congregation for help donating over-the-counter medications and first aid items for the missionaries’ medical clinics that they’ll be supporting once they get there.
Our whole family was moved by their request during the church service, especially our young sons. In our world, we take for granted that if you have a headache, you can take a pill to relieve it. If you cut yourself, you can wash it out, put some ointment and a bandage on it, and you’ll be fine. Yet, simple medical supplies are so important to communities in the third world, where there isn’t a drugstore on every corner.
Our family decided to set a budget and buy as many supplies as we could within that budget to send along with our church group to support these Honduran clinics.
Our church provided the congregation with a list of items needed, and as I scanned the list, I started thinking about where these items would likely be the least expensive. I kept the list in my wallet this week as I went around town, picking up things as I was out and about.
Jewel has a “dollar store” aisle where I’ve bought generic Neosporin-type triple antibiotic ointment, and I was pretty sure I’d seen antifungal cream and other similar creams there too. I’ve noticed that a lot of things in the dollar aisle at Jewel have been on clearance lately, but it looks like the dollar aisle’s been redone at the Jewels I shop, and they no longer had any $1 over-the-counter medications there.
A couple days later, I was rebate-hunting at Menards, and I saw that they had 30ct. Goodsense cough drops for .96 per bag. (Yes, I know we can get them cheaper with coupons and deals during cold season, but it’s now springtime.) Menards also had 25ct. Goodsense allergy relief tablets (Benadryl generic) for $1.89 each, and they had 16-ounce hydrogen peroxide for .57 a bottle.
Walgreens often has peroxide on sale for .33 a bottle, but it wasn’t on sale this week, so I thought this was pretty good. I also picked up a large 550ct. bottle of Goodsense Ibuprofen for $5.75.
Yesterday, we went to Dollar Tree, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many generic medications they sold for $1! I guess I haven’t paid enough attention to exactly what kinds of over-the-counter medications they carry. Dollar Tree had tubes of Dr. Sheffield’s triple antibiotic ointment for $1 — and this was the same brand I’ve bought before at Jewel in the dollar aisle too.
Dollar Tree also had gauze and elastic bandages for a dollar and many other items on our church’s missions list. I realized I hadn’t gotten such a good deal on a generic Benadryl after all at Menards — at Dollar Tree, their 25mg Benadryl generic is $1 for 30 tablets versus Menards’ $1.89 for 25 tablets! Dollar Tree also had 60ct. Tums-like antacids for $1 and 25ct. sugar-free cough drops for $1.
Not everything is the best price at Dollar Tree. Most multivitamins have 30 or less tablets in a jar. Their 16oz. bottles of peroxide, at $1, are a little pricier than the drugstores or even Menards. However, if you’re looking for medicine-cabinet basics, you can really get a lot for your money by buying these items at Dollar Tree.
A friend of ours works in the pharmaceutical industry and specializes in testing generic medications, so we know that generics have to be made to the same standards and equivalents as name brands. For what it’s worth, all of the medications I purchased at Dollar Tree are made in the USA too.
Some of our donation items came right from home. These Signature Care aspirins were free at Jewel from their Monopoly game coupons, and the Centrum Vitamints were just $1.50 after a coupon and instant-savings deal at Meijer earlier this year!
I’m happy that we were able to give so many items to share with others in need. If you’re wondering what our budget was, our family decided we’d take what we might spend for a night out to dinner and put it towards this instead.
I have to share this too — you know how sometimes a deal falls into your lap right when you need it? One of the other items on the list for the Honduran clinics: Matchbox-style toy cars as gifts for the children who are being treated. Of course, many stores sell Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars every day for $1, but I was hoping to spot a sale before the supplies drop-off deadline. Then, a deal truly fell in our lap.
Another church in our town has a rummage sale each spring, and today we went over to check it out. Someone had donated an enormous collection of brand-new Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Johnny Lightning cars, and the rummage sale was selling them for .20 per car! One of the church volunteers explained that the donor had been collecting for years and recently culled his collection, keeping the valuable cars and donating the common ones.
Chevelles, Camaros, Impalas — oh my! Do you think I bought enough Chevrolets? (Is anyone surprised by this at all?) This Chevy lover finds it difficult to buy anything car-related that isn’t a Chevrolet, but if you look closely, there’s a ’31 Caddy in there too. My sons had fun picking out cars for the children in Honduras, and of course they picked up a few for themselves too!
Seeing all of the things we could buy with an out-to-dinner budget really became an eye-opening project for our sons. One of my boys said “A night out to dinner is fun for us, but this is really a lot of stuff to buy to help other people.”
Who knew that a dollar store trip (and a “side order” of Hot Wheels) could deliver so many life lessons?