Starbucks' student employees give back

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When you’re a student, life can be pretty busy. Add a job to that busy schedule and it’s hard to imagine there would be time for anything else. However, the Penn State student employees at Starbucks in the HUB-Robeson Center are not letting their many responsibilities get in the way of giving back to the community.

With the support of their manager, Rebecca Brouwer, seniors Stephanie Vellucci and Julie Daniels helped form the student group Starbucks Gives Back, an organization focused on community service. The group, which went through the process to become an official Penn State student organization, is made up of employees as well as some regular customers.

The students decided to focus on causes close to their hearts where they felt they could make a big impact. After starting off with the 2013 Relay for Life, the group is currently focusing their fundraising efforts on Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors (PAWW). They will donate any money raised in the name of veteran and Purple Heart recipient Adam Hartwick.

“I’m a veteran,” said Vellucci. “We have also had a couple other veterans who have worked here and students who were involved in Penn State’s ROTC. Four or five of us also have parents in the military. I wanted to do something that gave back to the military, reflected good community service and would bring us closer as a group and even help us work better together.”

Since this is the first time the group is raising money for PAWW they set their goal at $200 but hope to surpass it.

To get started, employees have been able to participate in a few fundraisers while working, including giving a small donation on special occasions. For $3, the employees could wear their Halloween costumes on Halloween. In addition, employees could also donate to wear jeans on a specified day known as a “Jeekend.“

Vellucci and Daniels also have a bigger fundraiser in the work involving the support of their Starbucks customers. Leading up to winter break, for $5 customers will be able to “Skip the Line.”

“We’ll take them right to the front of the line, they’ll order and their drink will be made immediately,” explained Brouwer.

Customers will be required to donate the money in cash and be limited to one drink per skip.

Vellucci and Daniels believe the promotion will be successful. Customers can feel good about where their donations are going as PAWW uses all money to help wounded warriors pay rent, utility bills and provide gas cards for emergencies. These are small things that help wounded veterans make an easier transition to civilian life.

The fundraising by Starbucks Gives Back won’t stop with PAWW. Come spring semester, they plan to focus their fundraising efforts again on Relay for Life. They have set their goals high, hoping to surpass their previous fundraising total and finish among the top five student fundraising organizations.

Vellucci and Daniels say this is just the start of what they hope will become a very successful student organization making an impact in the community.

“We’re setting the building blocks,” said Daniels. “When we graduate in the spring, we want to leave this group on a high note and hope our successors can build from there.”

For now, they just hope to do the best they can with the limited time they have to give.

“I think we’re doing a good job of representing Starbucks and Penn State,” said Vellucci. “We’re trying to give back to our community focusing on issues we think are important.”

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Last Updated December 06, 2013