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Local Starbucks manager paying it forward to CSFD firefighters after they saved her home

Local Starbucks manager paying it forward to CSFD firefighters after they saved her home
Posted at 6:15 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 10:14:55-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A local Starbucks store manager is paying it forward to local firefighters, with coffee, after they saved her home during a fire in Colorado Springs in early May.

The effort is called Passion Project, and the first coffee giveaway was last Friday. Starbucks employees from more than 100 locations up and down the Front Range delivered 500 pounds of coffee and handwritten notes to more than 100 local fire departments.

“To us, they keep our community safe, and I wanted to remind them that we love them and that we support them,” said Rianne Chinchilla, the store manager for the Starbucks in Fountain.

An appreciation station is now set up in that Starbucks and many other locations, “where our community can come together, to write notes of appreciation or write on the five pound bag of coffee just to show them how important they are to us,” said Chinchilla.

Passion Project is an effort Chinchilla began after the Akerman Fire on May 12 in. Nearly 500 homes were evacuated that day, and a couple had minor damage. But hundreds of homes, including Chinchilla’s, were saved thanks to the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

“It wasn't even a week that we had moved in, that we I got a pre-evacuation notice on my phone, and I didn't know what that meant. I was really nervous,” said Chinchilla. “They (firefighters) saved more than just houses, they saved homes, they saved dreams. And so I just wanted to do something special for firefighters.”

Passion Project is donating five pounds of coffee and hand-written letters every other week to fire departments in Denver, down to Colorado Springs, to Pueblo and Alamosa, and even in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“Typically how we start our days is we'll come into the station, we'll get our gear on our rigs, and we'll have a cup of coffee and kind of catch up with what are we doing for the day,” said Captain Mike Smaldino, the public information office for the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

Captain Smaldino also said it’s already been a busy year fighting fires, and they’ve received so much support from the community so far.

“As it's gotten dryer, and winds have started kicking back up again. You know, it's just a reminder that we live in a community that is prone to wildfires,” said Captain Smaldino. “But our community is awesome, and this is just another example of it.”

Nearly 110 Starbucks locations are participating in Passion Project, and they will be doing this all summer long. Their next coffee drop off is happening Friday, July 1. For more information you can go to the Starbucks location in Fountain, off of Mesa Ridge Parkway.

“Truly from the bottom of our hearts. thank you, and it's great to support the entire firefighting community,” said Captain Smaldino.

“It's about support. It's about strength. It's about their community being there alongside them. So it's more than a cup of coffee,” said Chinchilla.

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