Small Effort Brings Venti Returns

10/20/2009 07:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Last time I stopped at the local Coffee Bean for an overpriced caffeine boost, I had the opportunity to purchase a pound of coffee to be donated to our troops in Iraq. The bag of beans had a panel on one side so I could write a personalized message of support. I loved the idea...until they issued me a tiny Coffee Bean dog tag that I could use for 10% off my next cup of coffee. **shudder**
I mean that's kinda icky, right? Dog tags as coupons? Well, I stood corrected when later that day I mentioned this enterprise to a Vietnam vet and he didn't seem to mind the commercialization of the tags at all. His take? " I wish there was something like this when I served."

Then, soon after my purchase, to my surprise , there appeared in my inbox the following message:

Christal, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!!! We are all in this thing together, whether in the sand box or buying someone a cup of coffee It is a team effort.

On a public television salary I will not soon be mistaken for Bill Gates, but I've donated to my share of causes, mostly Doctors Without Borders and the Humane Society. Yet this is the first time in any of my measly philanthropic endeavors that the communication of gratitude went both ways, and I have to say that it rocked my world.


Sharing a cup of Joe with a Joe (or Josephine) is now a weekly event for me and looking forward to those messages from the front lines helps me brave the day in my cubicle as much as I hope that jolt of caffeine helps our troops bravely serving abroad.

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