Better Together: Donuts & Coffee for a Cause

When Meg Robertson opened her garage door this morning, she expected to find a friend who’d driven up to join her for a walk as Meg recovered from a double mastectomy. The person she saw standing there was a complete stranger who immediately made her smile.

Brodie Rummage is a 9-year-old who, like many kids, loves books and dinosaurs. But Brodie also celebrates something that makes him a bit different from most other kids: He has Down syndrome. He’s now a self-advocate for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte and — even at a safe distance of well more than six feet away — Meg saw Brodie’s smiling face and matched his grin with her own.

Brodie put on his mask and came closer, because he was holding a surprise delivery for her. A dear friend purchased a dozen, delicious doughnuts; a bag of fresh-roasted whole bean coffee; and a goody bag to be delivered directly to Meg as a much-needed boost. Meg quickly learned these were no ordinary treats as part of an effort that came out of these extraordinary times.

Donate for Doughnuts (bit.ly/donatefordoughnuts) is a pandemic-prompted event by the Down Syndrome Association (DSA) of Greater Charlotte. “We couldn’t hold our biggest annual fundraiser — The Greater Charlotte Buddy Walk — in person due to COVID-19 so we created this delivery deal to bring the Buddy Walk spirit to your business or home,” says Holly Zipperer, executive director of the DSA of Greater Charlotte. “We’re also supporting local businesses that employ people with disabilities in a time when so many small businesses are struggling.”

David and Lisa Cooper get to work alongside their adult son, Zach, each day as they make doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, and other sweet delights at Down for Doughnutsin Mooresville, NC, which is north of Charlotte. Zach has Down syndrome and families like the Coopers understand the difficulties of finding employment for those with disabilities. In fact, a comprehensive study commissioned by Special Olympics found, “unemployment among people with intellectual disabilities is more than twice as high as for the general population.”

“It’s hard to put into words, to be honest with you,” David says about the Donate for Doughnuts partnership, as emotion fills his throat. “It’s not only the largest single order we’ve had since we opened seven months ago [in March as the pandemic hit] but this order is going to enable us to expand and hire, we hope, at least one to two more individuals with disabilities. We have seven employees with disabilities and our goal is to get to nine.”

 

Charlotte (NC) teenager Reid Foreman is learning the family coffee roasting business at HÆRFEST COFFEE (pronounced “harvest”). His dad, Toby, is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who fell in love with the coffee industry years ago while recovering from elbow surgery. When Toby’s wife, Cheri, gave birth to Reid and received his Down syndrome diagnosis, they promised each other to move forward on HÆRFEST COFFEE because, “Reid and his friends will need jobs someday,” recalls Toby.

Inside the goody bag, Meg found an offer for The Filter Box, an air filter subscription service that’s based out of Charlotte but serves clients across the country. Kennedy Boone is only a kindergartner, but she’s already learning to help her parents, Brendon and Betsy, with the family business as they prepare to hire employees with intellectual disabilities as their company grows. Kennedy, who has Down syndrome, tags along when possible as her dad delivers perfectly-timed boxes of air filters at the size and quantity you need, right on time to remind each you to change the dirty ones in your home. Kennedy has a twin brother, Jacob, who does not have Down syndrome, and their parents want to make a future where both will have similar opportunities to thrive. “We’re changing the systems so that Kennedy and Jacob can both benefit from a quality education, live independently as adults, pursue meaningful work, and contribute to their chosen communities and neighborhoods with our nonprofit KennedyStrong, which receives a portion of each purchase from The Filter Box.”

The DSA of Greater Charlotte supports preparation, training, and opportunities for employment for people with Down syndrome, so it pulled together these three local businesses to partner with on the Donate for Doughnuts fundraiser. And it’s a 100% good deal: 45% goes to the DSA of Greater Charlotte to help make up for lost Buddy Walk donations that provide for yearly programs and services, while the remaining 55% goes directly to Down for Doughnuts and HÆRFEST COFFEE to pay for the treats.

The “Sweet Spot Package” is 1-dozen glazed doughnuts delivered to your business or home for $25, while the “Better Together Package” is 1-dozen glazed doughnuts plus a 12 oz. bag of whole bean coffee delivered to your home or business for $40. Lisa Ciaravella, a Realtor with Kindred Realty, bought packages for delivery as a corporate “thank you gift” to nine of her clients who closed on new homes this year. “We wanted to give our clients a unique gift they’d enjoy, that supports people with disabilities, which is an effort close to our hearts,” says Lisa, whose family also owns Phoenix Physical Therapy and Sports Performance which helps patients with physical disabilities.

There are still openings for doughnut and coffee deliveries this December 18 and 19, the last two dates of this pop-up fundraiser. Brodie’s mom, Kathy Rummage, who’s the driver for her young delivery guy, says the smiles they’ve collected at each stop along the way, are well worth the miles. But she’s most optimistic about the gift that didn’t come inside a box or bag.“One of the goals of Donate for Doughnuts is to bring people with Down syndrome to the greater community, to people who haven’t had the chance to meet, talk, and laugh with someone who’s differently abled,” she says. “It’s vitally important our kids have better exposure in their neighborhoods, towns, and schools so their neighbors and peers will be able to recognize their ability first. What a better way to create those relationships than over doughnuts and coffee!”

DETAILS

  • Pre-orders are required at bit.ly/donatefordoughnuts by Dec. 9 for Dec. 18-19 deliveries
  • Sweet Spot Package ($25): a dozen glazed doughnuts delivered to your business or home
  • Better Together Package ($40): a dozen glazed doughnuts + a 12 oz. bag of whole bean coffee delivered to your business or home
  • Business & residential deliveries to the following 12 counties served by the DSA of Greater Charlotte (Mecklenburg, Union, Gaston, Cleveland, Lincoln, Catawba, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, Stanly, York and Lancaster).
  • All DSA delivery representatives will be wearing masks for safe delivery.
  • To place BULK ORDERS (corporate and residential) of 4 dozen or more, contact DSA of Greater Charlotte Exec. Dir. Holly Zipperer at hzipperer@dsa-gc.org or 215-285-1281.