By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Gateway-area coffee lovers spread the love this holiday season by paying it forward to their fellow caffeine seekers.
Employees of Deanna's Java Station, 392 Caffé and Red Rose Coffee all experienced customers that wanted to brighten a stranger’s day by pitching in more than the cost of their drink and pledging the excess cash to the next customer’s purchase.
On Christmas Eve, Deanna’s employee Dina Hamstra experienced goodwill unlike ever before. A customer idled at the window for sometime before telling Hamstra he needed to do something nice for someone. Jokingly, Hamstra said she told him to go to Wal-Mart and hand someone money.
“Then he said ‘Here's $10. I want to buy the next person’s drink and keep the rest for yourself,” Hamstra explained.
She was elated by the man’s gesture, as was the customer who benefited from it, as was nearly every other customer who visited the drive thru until closing time four hours later.
At the end of the day $60 was left at the little coffee stand. Hamstra took the money across the street to Aldi where she handed it to a woman with three children.
“I wanted her kids to know that there are good people in the world,” Hamstra said.
Owner Deanna Posey wasn't there that day, but she was touched by the happenings no less.
“It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to think people would do something like this for strangers,” Posey said.
Deanna's was not the only coffee spot in Clinton to experience the “pay it forward.” Jay Sanders and Jenna Stuhlman, owners of 392 Caffé, decided to create a program around the gesture. From November to Dec. 15, customers could become “Coffee Angels” by donating $5. Three of those dollars would go toward the next person’s drink and the other two would go to the Holiday Network and be divided into $1 for children in need and $1 for seniors. A Christmas tree was also set up in the shop with tags containing information about specific children who could use some extra help during the season.
“Naturally we love to do something to support the community because they support us,” Sanders said.
Sanders said their customers instantly jumped on the idea of giving back to other customers as well as others in the community.
By the end of the program, the shop had received $500 in Coffee Angels donations.
They were able to purchase 127 gifts for children, 65 fruit baskets for seniors and take care of the children whose names had been on the tree.
Tamara Claflin, owner of Red Rose Coffee, said the coffee lovers in the area have shown support for paying it forward since her shop opened three years ago.
One customer, she said, stops nearly ever Saturday with the intention of buying the next customer’s drink.
Claflin has seen the chain reaction that can be caused by one person’s generosity.
“I love it. It’s so much fun,” Claflin said. “The business is so much fun anyway and when people get so excited...I love it.”