The idea started with customers at the Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center Starbucks, but team members quickly turned it into a tradition.
“We had a lot of people who would leave their change behind, but as a non-profit hospital system, we can’t accept tips,” explained supervisor Alyssa Nelson. “We started off paying it forward for other customers, but we always ended up with extra money at the end of the day. So, we decided we would donate it to Aurora Health Care Foundation.”
Alyssa had participated in other fundraisers at the hospital, such as bake sales, and she thought her team could do something similar. They put a jar on the counter and gave their effort a name: Change for a Cause. Each month, they’d pick a different fund to support.
“We’ve donated to Aurora Family Service, research, breast cancer, cardiology and abuse response funds, to name a few. And last month, we donated to COVID-19 relief funds.”
Since it began early last year, Change for a Cause has become popular not only at Starbucks, but also at the hospital’s other food service locations.
“The cafeteria and Market Express also have collection jars. In 2019, we were able to donate more than $5,000.”
Alyssa is inspired by the spirit of giving she sees every day.
“People are unbelievably generous. I’ve seen some folks give $10 or even $20, especially if it’s a cause that’s close to their hearts,” she said.
The team plans to continue the effort as long as they can.
“It’s a great program; I’m so glad we got it off the ground,” said Alyssa. “I love that so many people want to help out.”