Baristas volunteer time to feed hungry kids

Mike Dunham

Customers at Kaladi Brothers Coffee on New Year's Day will help feed hungry kids while they sip their java. All proceeds from drinks sold on that day will go to The Children's Lunchbox, a meals program for youths in need run by Bean's Cafe.

The annual event has been a Kaladi tradition for more than 20 years, said Dale Tran, the company's chief operating officer.

"In past years we've done it for Kids Kitchen, the Food Bank of Alaska, Habitat for Humanity," he said.

Last year's effort raised about $11,000.

"But this year, the kicker is that Shell Alaska is going to be matching the amount," Tran said.

That will double the money raised from drink sales.

"I'm really curious to see what the total will be this year," Tran said.

Kaladi baristas will volunteer their time on Jan. 1 and work just for tips. Participation by the employees is not required, Tran said: "We ask and if they don't want to, it's fine. But a lot of them are excited about working on New Year's Day."

Kaladi and Shell employees selected the Children's Lunchbox group to receive this year's proceeds.

The Wasilla store will also donate its take for the day to the group, Tran said.

"But in Soldotna, they'll chose their own charity," he said.

This year's Soldotna recipient has yet to be named, he said, but in the past the money has been raised for the city's community playgrounds and the local branch of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Tran acknowledged that the first day of the year can be slower than most.

"People in Anchorage want to stay home with their family to celebrate the day after (New Year's Eve)," he said. "It's a bit of a struggle to get people out, especially in the morning, but there are a lot of people who are aware of what we're doing and stop by because they feel generous on New Year's Day."

The company understands that attitude, he said: "We like to start out the year by giving."

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.