Mechanic Falls and Minot Students Establish Coffee Service as Fundraiser

Students from Elm Street School in Mechanic Falls stand with coffee mugs to sell as a fundraiser for the Dempsey Center in Lewiston. Left to right, Ali Starbird, Deja Cummings, Ezra Edwards and Alyvia Bryant. Photo by Erik Petersons

MECHANIC FALLS — A $75 “investment” six weeks ago turned into a $1,200 donation to the Dempsey Center in Lewiston, thanks to a coffee project by a group of fifth and sixth graders at Elm Street School.

On Thursday, the students will present the check to the center during a school assembly.

The students have been able to create a business that is “much more successful than any of us could have ever imagined,” according to teacher Jacie Welch.

Welch, the enrichment teacher who runs the Gifted and Talented program at Elm Street School and Minot Consolidated School, said fifth graders Alyvia Bryant and Deja Cummings asked if they could start a business as part of the Junior Achievement program.

Welch suggested a coffee delivery service. She said it worked very well at a school where she previously worked.

Acting as “banker”, Welch loaned the students $75 as start-up capital.

She said she sees real-world apps as necessary for learning.

The students researched prices to find out what would be competitive and fair, surveyed teachers to form a menu, purchased supplies, and began service after April vacation.

Welch believed that anything earned over $75 would be a bonus.

“Never in a million years did we realize how successful it would be,” she said, in addition to the experience and confidence the students gained through the company.

The students designed and produced their own website and a television commercial for the company.

They also offered “sweet treats” such as chocolate chip brownies, sixth grade Ali Starbird pastries.

All coffee requests are pre-ordered via email. Prices are $2 for a regular coffee, $3 for a latte, and $1.75 for a lemonade.

Welch said the students decided to donate the funds to the Dempsey Center after discovering “everyone knows someone who has had cancer.”

The $1,200 donation also includes matching funds from Almas Group and Aebli Group, Auburn-based business consultants.

A group of fifth-grade students from Minot Consolidated School also entered the coffee service business for teachers and staff. Proceeds are expected to reach $300 by the end of the week and will be donated to the Bag Pack program funded by Vineyard Church in Mechanic Falls.

Next year, the two groups of coffee vendors plan to offer more choice, as well as provide personalized cups instead of paper and plastic containers to reduce waste.

Minot Consolidated School students, left to right, Sidney Russell, Ian Rioux, Lilah Rose Pittman, Owen Wallingford and Zachary Bartlett stand around the Mustang Coffee wagon. The service for teachers and staff raises funds for the Bag Pack program funded by Vineyard Church in Mechanic Falls. Photo by Erik Petersons


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