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Starbucks, Red Cross 'Bring a Bit of Home' to Overseas Troops

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2004 – The coffee giant Starbucks and the American Red Cross are teaming up to deliver hot java to U.S. servicemembers serving overseas in the war against global terrorism.

Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Jim Donald said during a Capitol Hill press conference today in the office of U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks that his company would provide 50,000 pounds of free, whole-bean coffee that will be brewed and distributed by Red Cross workers to troops serving in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It's important that we show the support and we have shown support -- for our troops overseas," Donald explained. In fact, he said, Starbucks, headquartered in Seattle, has 80 employees in the military now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And many of Starbuck's 85,000 employees, Donald pointed out, have friends and family members serving overseas in the military. Starbuck's partnership with the Red Cross, he noted, "is just a way of reaching into the community and supporting troops from all over the U.S."

Starbucks will ship the coffee to overseas locations as directed by the Red Cross, noted Alan McCurry, chief operating officer for the American Red Cross.

"We will make coffee and distribute it," McCurry explained, noting that the Red Cross will also ensure that forward-deployed ground troops will get their share.

The Starbucks-Red Cross coffee distribution partnership will boost military morale, McCurry predicted, while bringing "a little bit of home to the troops."

McCurry estimated that coffee shipment to overseas troops should begin in about three or four weeks, in time for the holiday season.

Dicks, who represents Washington state's 6th District, said many employees at Starbucks stores across the country had already been sending "care packages" of free coffee to U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

According to Starbucks officials, local company representatives recently donated 10 gallons of freshly brewed coffee and pastries to support a family support group event held at Fort Sheridan, Ill., near Chicago.

Other Starbucks employees from 90 stores in the northeastern United States, including New Jersey and Philadelphia, donated their free weekly coffee allotment totaling 2,000 pounds to U.S. servicemembers serving overseas. Federal Express shipped the coffee for free to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where it was then distributed to troops in the Balkans and the Middle East.

And the daughter of a Starbuck's store manager in Newark, N.J., who was corresponding with reservists from Morristown serving in Iraq, played a role in ensuring they received free Starbucks coffee. The soldiers forwarded a letter of thanks, noting the coffee reminded them of home.

At a recent meeting featuring representatives from about 100 Starbucks stores in northern Ohio and Michigan, store managers and partners collected more than 500 pounds of coffee that was then shipped to American soldiers in Iraq.

In Texas, the Rangers baseball team and north Texas Starbucks stores recently teamed up to send coffee and Rangers' teddy bears to troops serving in Iraq.

A Starbucks customer with a son serving with a Maryland National Guard unit in Iraq complimented Starbucks stores in Arlington, Va., for donating free coffee to troops serving in Iraq, noting the company "is doing a great job supporting our (military) men and women."

Now Starbucks' corporate headquarters in Seattle wants to "do something of significance" to support the troops, Dicks noted.

Washington State, Dicks pointed out, is home to several military facilities, including Fort Lewis, where U.S. Army soldiers train with the transformational Stryker vehicle.

The congressman said he appreciates the difficult work performed by U.S. servicemembers deployed overseas in the war against global terrorism, noting they "are doing a great job for our country."

"We hope that having these 50,000 pounds of coffee will make life a little better" for deployed servicemembers, the congressman remarked, noting that he wishes them success in their missions and that they safely return home to their families.

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