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NEWS | July 27, 2020

Grounded in giving: Chaplains transport donated coffee at Camp Arifjan

By Sgt. Khylee Woodford U.S. Army Central

U.S. Army Chaplains transported 850 boxes of donated coffee onto the grounds of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

The coffee came from nationally recognized nonprofit Holy Joe's Cafe, a 501C-3 dedicated to providing free coffee to chaplain ministries across the armed forces.

Army Reserve Maj. Jason Smith, a family-life chaplain with the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), 1st Sustainment Command, voluntarily led the logistics and operations of unloading the donated coffee in the sweltering heat to ensure each box would make its way to chapel ministries across Camp Arifjan and to those deployed forward.

For Smith, offering Soldiers a cup of coffee gives more than a caffeinated start to the day, it cultivates grounds for conversations to percolate.

"It draws people to talk to Chaplains while coming for coffee, building relationships, and resiliency," said Smith.

The chaplain's initiatives brewed from the generous donation of Holy Joe's Cafe, whose shipment yielded over 51000 cups of free coffee to Soldiers through chaplain activities.

The shipment consisted of eight pallets that arrived at the Aerial Port of Debarkation at the Kuwait International Airport, where Maj. Randal Day, operations chaplain assigned to the Area Support Group - Kuwait and Deputy Chaplain, would also provide a helping hand.

"We left at 7:30 this morning; the folks on the ground were very helpful," said Day. "One of the pallets broke, but we were able to donate to the Air Force on the spot."

Smith and Day were joined by former forklift operator Army Staff Sgt. Levi Hill, who is now a religious affairs specialist with the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and Staff Sgt. Antwan Wilson, logistics for the 470th Movement Control Battalion.

"People volunteer their time to do this," said Day. “Smith worked it out with the 311th to have transportation to pick up the coffee, that was huge, I couldn't have done that on my own, it was a huge asset to do that."

Along with Hill's forklift operating capability, and Wilson navigation, Smith's keenness for the caffeinated delight allowed chaplains to acquire the resources to help connect them with Soldiers.

"Everybody loves coffee or should. It provides a stigma-free reason to go and visit a Chaplain, and reminds service members that America stands behind them," said Smith.

The group goal is to coordinate the redistribution of coffee to chaplain ministries at Camp Buehring, Iraq, Afghanistan, the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Task Force Spartan, and to the U.S. Marines, on Camp Arifjan over the next week, Day said.