Employees and customers at the Starbucks location on Charlotte Street are rallying to raise funds to send Asheville kids from low-income families to summer camp.
As part of a company’s Global Month of Service campaign, the Asheville location began collecting funds on April 28 to cover the cost of summer camp via in-store collection jars and donations. So far the campaign has raised over $1,200, thanks in part to an anonymous $300 donation made by a customer, said Nicole Krieger, the barista who initiated the project.
“The corporation gave us the green light to take part in community projects, and I just had it in my mind that I wanted to do something unique,” said Krieger, who adds that she was inspired by the documentary A Small Act.
With two days left to go, the campaign has already raised enough money to send two kids to camp: 12-year-old Shiquan McCallister, who will be spending two weeks at Camp Rockmont, and a 13-year-old girl who will be attending a week-long camp at The Appalachian Institute for Creative Learning.
Krieger said the Starbucks staff sought community nominations when looking for the most deserving kids, ultimately finding the children through help from an Early Head Start program and the nonprofit Open Doors of Asheville, which works with kids growing up in multi-generational poverty.
“One of our board members walked into Starbucks to have a coffee and saw the jar,” recalled Jennifer Ramming, executive director for Open Doors. “She asked who they were sending to camp and the barista said ‘A kid that needs it.’ And we realized we had a whole waiting list for that.”
Ramming said children in poverty are at high risk during the summer months, when school is out and working families cannot afford to stay home and provide supervision or attention. For this reason, Open Doors had been working to send children to sleepaway camps, prioritizing children who were homeless or had recently experienced homelessness. Ramming said Starbucks and Open Doors split the $800 bill of sending McCallister to camp, crediting Camp Rockmont and The Learning Community with providing the normally $2400 camp slot for a reduced rate.
“It was all pretty magical and a great community effort,” Ramming said. “It was totally Asheville-style the way it played out.”
Donations can still be made at the Starbucks location at 62 Charlotte St. through May 31. Krieger said any additional funds will go toward providing camping essentials, like toiletries and shoes, and sending a third child to camp.
For more information, call 225-3753.