Earning my FREE COFFEE from Starbucks

I’m sure most of you have heard that Starbucks is giving away a free 12oz coffee (not sure what it’s called in S’bux-speak) January 21-25 to anyone who pledges to do 5 hours of volunteer work this year. Know why I think it’s a cool idea? Because a lot of people will make the pledge just to get the freebie, and then find themselves more aware of and open to volunteer opportunities because of it.

Me, I’ve got a few things already in mind to earn my cup…or cups? I mean, there are about 6 Starbucks within a 3-minute walking radius of my apartment. I wouldn’t even have to show my shameless face at the same one for my freebie(s). Anyway, here’s why I think I might be able to do this without guilt:

Several times a month, I give a one-hour Thai massage during my super-offpeak hours (like 10am) for half my normal rate, and 100% of the money (plus a match to any voluntary tip up to $30) goes to a charity of my choice. I do about 2 a month – more if there’s interest – so that’s worth 5 cups right there, heh.

Teen Shelter Deliveries
Not sure how to count the time I contribute to that. I mean, it’s my choice to walk 25 minutes each way to the discount supermarket and the shelter, so I don’t think I should count this at all. However, in the last wish list I got from the shelter, there was a general invitation to come in with groceries and cook dinner one night. I have no idea how to cook for 30-50 and would probably end up not having any food ready until midnight (longstanding family tradition of that!)…but perhaps I could see if it’s okay to drop off prepared food like I did for Thanksgiving. I think that time could count.

The Baobab Home
I’m planning to spend 7-10 days of my trip to East Africa later this year helping to build communal childrens’ homes on a recently donated 15-acre farm in Tanzania. I’m not really a fan of “voluntourism” in principle (I think it’s better suited to people who haven’t travelled much), but this is a charity I’ve donated to a few times in the past 3 months, and the director/founder invited me to “lay a few bricks at our new hippie oasis” after I answered her questions about how the economy was affecting my life. I reckon I’ll be giving 20-60 hours to this project.

NY Cares & OneBrick
I keep my eye on these sites for opportunities that fit into my schedule, which is unfortunately limited. If I had a normal 9-5 job, I’d happily bag up parcels for distribution at a food pantry 6-8pm, but those are prime time for my business. I’ll try to be more vigilant about checking for events.

So…do any of you have plans to earn a free cup of coffee?


5 Responses

  1. I’ve been donating a small amount every month to charity but I’ve never thought of volunteering my time. If I were to volunteer, maybe an animal shelter? Or a poverty advocacy group? I’m proud of Starbucks for promoting volunteering. Now I feel bad for calling them Star*ucks. I hope you have internet access while you’re in Africa since I’d love to read about your volunteer services there!

  2. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with this move by Starbucks. I figured after their attempt to give free coffee to voters on election day resulted in fear of a discrimination lawsuit, they wouldn’t go this route again anytime soon.

    I’m not planning to bring my laptop because it’s such an adventure to use internet cafes in other countries. Sometimes it’s a great way to hook up with other tourists, and sometimes it’s a more local experience. Of course, it can be a real pain in the backside to use a differently-arranged keyboard!

  3. Um… I think you are going to be wired from all the caffeine this week. So, if your post sound rushed or show signs of craziness, I forgive you. 😉

    How did you grow up to be so Worldly? I so would love to pic kup your traits. Your aura must just be beaming with colors.

    That is really cool you are volunteering in Africa. I hope you do write during your stay.

  4. Funk – I got bit by the travel bug at age 11, when doing a European geography project and devoured “Frommer’s Europe on $20 a day”. I wasn’t able to do anything about it until I was 19, but haven’t stopped since! I feel like my real self comes out to play when I’m traveling – I’m truly in my element.

  5. Wow…you are inspiring. When I lived in Australia I volunteered for a dog fostering organisation, but I admit to not spending any time on volunteering since I’ve been in the USA. I really should.

    I’d love to hear more about your Africa adventure. Sounds amazing.

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