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FedEx Blog

Coffee provided as a small way to thank overseas soldiers

May 29, 2011

Chaplain Andrew Sholtes
Lt. Cmdr, United States Navy
Kandahar, NATO Role 3 Trauma Hospital

We live and work next to the military airfield (busiest single runway airport of the world) in Kandahar, Southern Afghanistan. The amenities of normal life are painfully missing. Good air, tolerable temperature, tasty food, alcohol, and personal privacy are just non-existent. We work around the clock every day, no days off, to save lives of local  civilian and military, and our own. We see death, pain and destroyed lives several times on each day.

The only luxury we have is good coffee thanks to a man in Connecticut and shipping donated by FedEx. The First Congregational Church in Wallingford, CT started an unusual ministry 5 years ago to chaplains: sending them coffee and coffee makers into the war zone.

I am a chaplain in the United States Navy from San Diego. During the pre-deployment infantry training in last November I received a phone call from Tom Jastermsky who has been supplying over 500 chaplains in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. He asked me, “What kind of coffee do you like?” – what an odd question to a soon-to-deploy chaplain. He explained how they have been redistributing donations from Green Mountain Coffee and my future duty station, the NATO Role 3 trauma hospital is one of the happy costumers in Kandahar.

As I arrived, I realized the tremendous impact these donations have on the staff of health care providers. The best  surgeons and nurses, medical technicians and Hospital Corpsmen from 6 NATO nations are treated consistently with quality gourmet coffee. Coffee houses are a good walking distance from the hospital. I often wondered, what would it  be like in the middle of the night to get a cup of freshly brewed tasty coffee if it weren’t for this ministry, we call Holy Joe’s Café? Four machines are supplied by a very expensive shipping price with different flavored coffee on a regular basis.

Realizing the sacrifice people are making to donate for the costly shipping, I have been shy to ask anything special and been very grateful what we had. One day Tom excitedly informed me that he received an enormous 40 palettes of coffee donations from Green Mountain but he has no way of shipping it. He and I frantically searched different ways how the military might be able to ship that from Wallingford CT to Kandahar. We had some promising leads but eventually we ran into all kinds of red tape. Just as we were getting discouraged, FedEx stepped forward and offered to fly the shipment to me.

It was as close to a miracle as it gets in these days! The  generosity of FedEx benefited 33 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine units in Southern Afghanistan. Additional machines by Keurigs started up new Café’s in smaller bases. We have 11 new chaplains who have been given an opportunity to enhance the standard of living of his or her unit by providing coffee and create a place and an atmosphere where war-fighters can relax and talk uninhibitedly to their chaplains. While the caffeine helps them to get through the day, the advice and counseling they receive will have a long lasting impact on their lives. Many soldiers will have a chance to talk undisturbed to a chaplain because of the coffee house setting. The impact on our troops is truly immeasurable! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you! FedEx made a huge difference in the lives of those who volunteered to fight this war so far away from home.

coffee and soldiers

coffee loaded to FedEx jet

 coffee one soldier


    JOE B. TYRONE says:

    HOOYAH! Thank all of you for the most difficult job you do. Always in my prayers. God bless all of you and keep you safe in His arms.

    Joe B. Tyrone, FEDEX Dispatcher – Retired

    Steve Reynolds says:

    Proud, Proud, Proud to be a part of the best company in the world.

    Mary McDonald says:


    Frass says:

    What a great amount of good to so many, from such a small measure as providing our shipping services. Thank you to all those who serve / have served for my freedom. I cherish it. If I could fly over and make your cup of coffee, I certainly would!

    BMNicholson says:

    I am awestruck and bursting at the seams with pride and gratitude for both our soldiers and our company. This seemingly simple solution does not just happen. Our company found a way to get the coffee to the other side of the world so hundreds of soldiers and support staff could enjoy a cup of joe. Thank you FedEx. This company has earned yet more praise for its compassion and generosity.

    daniel jorge says:

    as a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and still serving as an Air Force Reservist;im proud of my Fedex team stepping up and making sure that the coffee got there as soon as possible for my brothers and sisters in harms way can start enjoying it.hhhooorrrahhh to the fedex team and godspeed and have a safe flight back to the states for my brothers and sisters in uniform.

    Maria Wheeler says:

    Thank you to all our American Soldiers all over the world for the ultimate sacrifice. I am proud to work for a corporation that supports and steps up to the plate where we can make a difference. God Bless and stay safe. Maria Wheeler Sales Executive Dallas Texas.

    pat lair says:

    awesome story . I am very proud that we –Fedex do things like this for our soliders. We should do all we can to support them daily .. we do bleed red /white/blue .

    Phil Fowlie says:

    Proud to be part of FedEx (1 year yesterday) and Proud to be an American! Godspeed to all the men and women in our military and their families, I think about you all every single day. Freedom truly is not free…

    Lisa McClure says:

    We just said “see you in six months” to one of our FedEx Custom Critical team members who is joining her Air National Guard unit soon for another deployment in Kuwait/Iraq. As soon as she updates us, I’ll tell her to look for the FedEx “Expresso” cafés that have been supplied through these shipments by our sister OpCo. Thanks for a great example of our Purple Promise in action. God bless the chaplains for their service to our troops.

    Rich Peyman says:

    Thank God for all our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines. Without them we might not be able to work for a Company that’s so giving. Thank you each and every one.

    Wendy Howell says:

    Reading this blog just made me smile and feel like someone just gave me a huge hug. Thank you Fedex for stepping up and taking care of these wonderful servicemen and women who protect us daily with their unselfish lives so we can all work for THE BEST COMPANY ever!!! Thank you to every soldier for loving each of us so sacrificially. Im so proud to call Fedex my company for 19 years!!!
    Wendy Howell, RDUA Courier…

    Lisa McClure says:

    Oh Boy! Am I in trouble! Donna is a member of the US Air Force Reserves, not National Guard. Please forgive my error. 🙁

    Ginger Lunsford says:

    My niece has been there for almost 6 months and has 6 to go. She loves receiving her little gifts and goodies from family and friends. What an awesome donation from Conn and our FedEx family. I’m very proud of our soldiers, to be an American, and part of such a great company that gives so much. I can’t wait to let her know how she gets her coffee everyday 🙂


    Proud to work for FEDEX and so very proud to be a Vermonter where Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Headquarters is!!

    Shannon Finley says:

    Thank you! As my brother is actually stationed there now , I wish all the troops a safe journey no matter where you are around the world. Come home safe!

    Aricka Faulkner says:

    Thank you FedEx for supporting my peers still in the sandbox. Small gesters from home mean alot and are appreciated.
    Aricka Faulkner, DFWR Express Manager and United States Navy Reserve Support.

    Aricka Faulkner says:

    Thank you for supporting my peers in the Sandbox still, gestures from home are appreciated and mean alot. Aricka Faulkner, Manager DFWR (Express), United States Navy Reserve.

    Donald Mooney says:

    I am a Chaplain in the United States Army Reserve, 22 years, and an employee at Federal Express, 25 years. I am thankful for Chaplain Andrew Sholtes and the other Chaplains that are taking care of the spiritual needs in the greatest military on earth. I am thankful to God to be a part of Federal Express and the United States Army. God Bless!

    Jay Rollins says:

    The simple things we take for granted stateside mean so much to those who give up a lot in the service of our great country. I am proud to be with FedEx and a customer of Green Mountain Coffee. Both corporations have commitments to quality and giving back to the community.

    deborah kelly says:

    thank god for our troops, and for the chaplins who help them make it through the day. i work for the BEST company in the world, and it makes me so proud to do so when i hear yet another story of how fedex steps up to the plate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jose L. Rodriguez says:

    What a wonderful thing our GREAT Company is doing for our Soldiers overseas…I’m proud to be part of the FEDEX team…Thanks FEDEX for all you do….

    Eric Robinson says:

    BZ to FedEx…!!!

    Carole says:

    OMG! I am tearing up, great story. I am so happy to be apart of a company, that is helping our soldiers, having a little piece of home, in their trying day.

    Claudia Ordonez says:

    Stories like this make me feel very proud to work for FedEx. BZ to all!!!

    Kong Ly says:

    It is nice to see this happening even though I am an employee of Fedex and a part of the Army National Guard which will be deploying to Afghanistan this year. Thanks….

    Thomas Dudley says:

    I am very happy to see our company come through for our military. It hits close to home because my wife and I just watched our son leave for Korea on Saturday. He is 18 years old and in the United States Army!!!!

    Jackie Garner says:

    I love these stories…thanks FedEx for the things you do for others when they cannot do for themselves. Great to be an employee of a really good company.

    Andrew Sholtes says:

    One more addition to the story I have written about this generous shipment by FEDEX of Green Mountain and Keurigs coffee. In my conservative calculation, about 20,000 Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Guardsmen and Airmen are enjoying this ‘touch of home’ of delicious coffee for the next three months. That’s a big chunk of all US military personnel deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom. The impact of your company, the coffee donors, and the miraculous coordination of Holy Joe’s very own Tom Jastermsky, is enormous! Thank you for truly making a difference!!! Gratefully yours, Chaplain A.P. Sholtes from Kandahar

    Peggy says:

    FedEx continues to prove they are a top notch company. Way to go FedEx and I will continue to ship with you always.

    Wanda Trinci says:

    Thank you Fedex….our children, parents, Aunts and Uncles, Brothers and Sisters who are serving in the Services I am sure Appreciate a good cup of coffee as we all do. Thank YOU 🙂

    Sandy Arocho says:

    I love this story, my son is in the US Navy since he was 17, and he loves coffee. I am happy to know my FedEx helps those who serve our country…Gos bless our troops and those who help them while their away from home!

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