I found a coffee that can reduce stress and anxiety, mentally transport you and even make a grown man teary. Are these magic beans? Close. It’s Green Beans Cup of Joe for a Joe. This is a cup of coffee you buy for a soldier who is deployed. You send a personal message with it and it’s like eight ounces of ‘liquid home” for the troop receiving it. Oh, and it’s easy to do and costs $2.
I want to share some of the ones I’ve done and a few troop responses. I also want to warn you about my Christmis-hap (that’s short for my mishap over Christmas).
But first, how it works…
Green Beans Company has cafes in many of the bases where our deployed troops are. Servicemen and women sign up for Cup of Joe (COJ). Then strangers (you and me) go to the COJ site where we can buy our troops a cup of coffee. Each cup is $2 and you can even buy just one. You send a personal message with it. Most of the time they write back a thank-you note. There’s also the option to be pen pals if both sides wish to.
They’re not all soldiers but “Dear Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman” sounds a little impersonal. I write “Dear Soldier” and if they’re not, they’ll let me know. Also, the Army is the largest branch so the math is on my side. The note you send goes out to however many troops you bought coffee for. If you become pen pals, that’s one-on-one.
You can write something short. Don’t be thrown that I sometimes go long. I also vary the tone and subject. I think all that counts here is sincerity. Even saying hello and wishing someone well has great value. Imagine coming off a 14-hour day in a combat zone. The closest thing to home is this café. You stop to have a break and someone you don’t even know cared enough to say a few encouraging words and “PS- coffee’s on me.” These are the kinds of things that impact morale and reduce stress. And we have the power to make that impact from our living room.
I said/ they said – dinosaurs
Dear Soldier, My little girl Sofia taught me something you may find useful in your work. It’s the reason why dinosaurs are extinct. SOFIA: A giant astronaut fell from space and made a big crater in the earth and made the dinosaurs extinct. ME: Do you think maybe that was a giant asteroid and not a giant astronaut? SOFIA: No. —-There you have it. At any moment an exceptionally large NASA employee could come barreling out of the sky butt-first. So be sure to look up now and then…Also, I want to thank you for all you do. Thank you for letting me have dino stories and more in safety and freedom. Take care, Gina
-Ms. Gina, Thanks so very much for the coffee.. and for sharing Sofia’s story about the falling astronaut!! Both brightened my day and brought a smile to my face. The story made me think of my young daughter and of the unpredictable things that come from the mouths of babes. And by the way– I’m an Air Traffic Controller here in Iraq, so if we pick up any falling NASA employees on the radar scope, I’ll be sure to let you know! With sincere thanks, __________ SSgt, USAF
-Gina; Thanks for making me smile 🙂 Sofia sounds a lot like my little girl from a few years ago; she turns 9 in two weeks and this is the first time in her life I will miss her birthday. Don’t ever think that it doesn’t mean a lot to have people you don’t know thank you for what you are doing … it means the world. Regards, LTC _______________
I said/ they said – Christmas
Dear Soldier, A cup of coffee is pretty small to be a present. So what I really want to give you for Christmas is the certainty that you are not forgotten. And to know how grateful I am for your service. I’m from NYC and whether my day is crazy good or bad, I get to live it in peace. Your hard work and sacrifice gives me that gift. Thank you for all you do. I wish you a merry, happy and safe holiday. Gina
-Thank you Gina. I received your coffee on Christmas Eve. We were all having a pretty tough day here but finding your note with the coffee was sweet. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you, _______
-Thank you so much Gina. It is Christmas Eve and guess what? You are the first person to give me a present 🙂 And a cup of coffee is NOT too small to be a present. It is just fine. My name is SFC _____ and I’ve been in Afghanistan for almost 7 months. I have seen some things I hope to forget but I have some things I hope I never forget. As it is Christmas Eve I am just trying to be thankful to have a place like the U.S. to go back to with nice people like you who care enough to give me a cup of coffee. 🙂 Thanks again, _______
Between sending care packages to my adopted soldier and handling presents at home, I was having some holiday mailing stress. That’s when I found COJ. No boxes, no post office…just a few clicks. It was so easy that I bought a lot of coffee that day. When I got to the part about pen pals, I checked “yes.” I figured what are the chances that all these troops are going to want to be pen pals? I learned that at Christmas, when everyone is missing home very much, those chances are 98%. The rest of the time, it’s only a few troops that want to write. But after Christmis-hap, I don’t put a giant order in all at once. I spread it out.
With some troops, you just exchange a few emails. Some write the entire time they’re deployed. There are a few I’ve kept in touch with after they’ve gotten home. One is a solider who taught me one of the most important things I learned in this journey. That story is for next time. But for right now, may I suggest a cup of coffee? I know where you can get some powerful stuff.
© Gina left the mall, 2012