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By JOSHUA COFFMAN
ELIZABETHTOWN — A local shop is providing thousands of cups of morning Joe for G.I. Joes.
Last October, Arnold’s Coffee Café on Ring Road began collecting pounds of coffee purchased by customers and has shipped them to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In return, soldiers have sent letters, certificates and an American flag to the café to show their gratitude.
For each pound of coffee donated, Arnold’s rewards a person with a free drink and covers shipping costs.
Owner Arnold Myers contacted Col. Michael Smith, a Hardin County resident then serving in Iraq, who put Myers in contact with other troop leaders.
“It sort of snowballed,” Myers said, “one guy tells another.”
To date, more than 250 pounds of java beans have been delivered to service members thanks to Operation Coffee.
Customers often write notes of support on coffee bags and sometimes include e-mail addresses.
Smith and Lt. Col. Anthony Farris, also a Hardin County resident, have sent back notes and photos of smiling troops toting coffee cups.
“Your coffee is a hit here,”Farris wrote, “no surprise there. … I load them up on your coffee and we can work all night.”
The 478th Engineering Co. sent the café an American flag that flew over Camp Ramadi. It now sits folded into a triangle near the business’s front door.
“It’s one way of hundreds to express our support,” said Myers, who has not wanted to commercialize the project or consider it charity. The former National Guardsman, along with his customers, merely is saying thanks.
Emotions have run high for those the program has impacted. The wife of a Fort Knox soldier stationed in a war zone came to the store in tears to show her gratitude.
Just before last Christmas, two customers donated $100 each toward the project, Myers said.
“They’re over there busting their - - - and getting shot at,” he said. “They need to know somebody cares.”
Joshua Coffman can be
reached at (270) 505-1740.