Government agencies, businesses, trade groups and nonprofit organizations are sources for billions of dollars in free information and products.
A few examples of what's out there:
For babies: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus offers a personalized gift certificate and a circus ticket to every baby born in the United States in 1994. Send the child's name, address and birthday to P.O. Box 39845, Dept. FRE, Edina, Minn., 55439.
For kids: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration gives out a "Solar System Puzzle Kit." Write to NASA Educational Publications, Code FEP, Washington, D.C., 20546.
For families: Computer Kingdom offers three IBM-compatible software programs about nutrition. Choose Deal-a-Meal, Grocery or Recipe, and send $2 shipping and handling for each program to P.O. Box 3002, Providence, R.I. 02903.
For seniors: There's the Dreyer's-Edy's Grand Ice Cream Golden Cone Membership, which includes membership card, club newsletter, discount coupons, a safety whistle, key chain and note pad. Send $2 shipping and handling to 5929 College Ave., Oakland, Calif., 94618.
For teachers: The U.S. Postal Service offers a free starter kit called "Wee Deliver," which includes an information video, designed to teach children about the postal system. Send requests to 475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Room 10541, Washington, D.C., 20260.
For clubs and civic groups: The Can Manufacturers Institute gives out "The Great Aluminum Can Roundup" kit, which contains a poster, chart, stickers and contest information about aluminum recycling.