Those visiting The Perfect Cup in Matlacha from the end of May through July 4 have been greeted with an array of colorful coffee bags tacked to the walls and suspended from clothes lines. These bags represent a very special gift for our troops serving in the Middle East. The campaign to send coffee to the soldiers was the brain child of the manager of the Perfect Cup, Katie Fischer.
"I was watching the Today Show one morning and I happened to notice a woman wearing a T-shirt advertising a coffee shop that was sending coffee to the soldiers and I thought why not do the same thing here," said Fischer. "The people of Pine Island are some of the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure to meet and I figured this would be a great way for them to show their support for the troops that was inexpensive and easy to do."
Customers to the Perfect Cup were offered the opportunity to purchase a Freedom Blend coffee bag which they could decorate or write a message on. The bags were sold for $6 which would cover the cost of one pound of Freedom Blend coffee beans which would be packaged in the bags and sent to the troops.
"The price we charge our customers is what we pay for the beans and we will foot the cost for sending the coffee to the Middle East," said Fischer. "It is our hope that the inspirational messages, art work and coffee will help those who receive this gift to get their day off to a good start; well, as good a start as can be had when you are in a war zone."
Originally Fischer's goal was to collect 100 pounds of coffee to send to the troops but exceeded that goal in no time.
"We reached our 100-pound goal within the first week. I was astounded and delighted when we ended up raising 300 pounds of coffee," she said. "At the same time, I am not that surprised because I know how generous and helpful the people of Pine Island and Matlacha are. When I moved here, one of my relatives was very ill and subsequently passed away. The outpouring of support by the community was unmatched by anything I had ever experienced and I knew I could count on my community to help me to give something back.
"I will be forever grateful that I decided to make Pine Island my home and I will do what ever I can to help support my community as they have done for me, my family and the men and women serving our country overseas," she continued. "These people have set an example for the rest of the country to follow."
The coffee will be sent to a military base in the Middle East where it will be distributed to a number of units along with other donations made by the people of the United States.
"At this point, we don't know which units will receive the coffee, but we are hoping that whoever gets this gift will write to us so that we can share their letters with the community," Fischer said. "We also have been asked not to grind the coffee and send the whole beans because when the soldiers are in the war zone they are unable to brew the coffee but can still enjoy the caffeine lift by chewing the beans."
Each of the bags will have a note attached with contact information to the Perfect Cup along with the following message:
"The Cup began raising money to provide soldiers with freshly roasted Freedom Blend coffee starting Memorial Day. Overwhelmingly, community support resulted in 300 pounds for women and men serving our country in foreign lands. May you enjoy this small token of appreciation for your incredible commitment to our country. God bless, come home safely, we love you. If you would like to write, we would love to hear from you."
According to Fischer, the Perfect Cup intends to hold the coffee campaign for the troops twice a year and, at this time, is planning to offer the same opportunity for residents and visitors during the holiday season.
Among the biggest contributers to the campaign were the Pine Island VFW, the American Legion and the Pine Island Moose. An additional gift also was attached to a bag purchased from a real estate office on Pine Island.
"The Realtors at Island Realty not only purchased a coffee bag but added a special gift of their own," Fischer said. "One lucky soldier who receives the bag of coffee from Island Realty will also find a gift certificate for a free vacation on Upper Captiva at the Caper Beach Cottages."
The Perfect Cup, located on Pine Island Road in Matlacha next to Rooney's Market, is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., serving breakfast and lunch and for breakfast on Sunday morning from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call the Perfect Cup at 283-4447.