With the transition to a virtual learning environment for Carolina schools, many parents and families may struggle to afford supplies for their kids for the upcoming school year.
But a small-business owner with a big heart has found a way to help local students get ready for the school year. Meet Mike Hargett, owner and operator of Detour Coffeebar, a mobile coffee truck.
“I spent about 10 years in a corporate office, but I definitely wanted to get back into being more community invested,” Hargett said. “A coffee truck was one of my dreams that I wanted to start. Getting back into the community, actually having face-to-face interactions,” Hargett said.
Last October, Hargett started his dream job being his own boss, and business started strong. Months later, when the coronavirus shut down businesses across the country, Hargett had to pivot his business from serving at corporate locations to serving in neighborhoods.
“I’m in an apartment almost every weekday, and the weekends I spend at neighborhoods, HOAs and cul-de-sacs,” Hargett said. “Taking it right to the front door now is how we shifted.”
But Detour Coffee hasn’t shifted its commitment to the community. With students heading back to school, the financial ramifications of the coronavirus is hitting families hard.
His commitment is going to make an incredible impact on students. Over the next month, 10% of all sales at Detour Coffeebar will benefit Classroom Central during 9 School Tools. Classroom Central distributes free school supplies to students most in need.
Many vulnerable and low-income families depend on help from the annual 9 School Tools drive.
Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed to students in grades K-12 at no cost.
“We’re also encouraging others to go to our website, and they can donate directly through my link and (the donation will) still go right to Classroom Central as well. We have multiple ways to support,” Hargett said.
Aside from the delicious java at Detour Coffeebar, there is a clear mission to help those in need.
Hargett said he knows the demands of the home can sometimes outweigh needs at school. When a family must choose between buying enough food for dinner or paying the power bill, the pressure of purchasing school supplies is an added expense that families can’t afford.
“Having that in my background, I’ve always wanted to do something to give back. If I can help, then I’m going to take advantage of my truck and make sure that happens for someone else.”
With his 9 School Tools poster displayed on his window, Hargett has gotten great feedback from his customers.
“People have been really receptive to the idea of feeling like they’re doing something and getting something at the same time,” he said. “They’re coming by to enjoy their own strawberry mint smoothie or blackberry crisp latte, but at the same time, they’re giving towards Classroom Central. So it’s a double win for them.”
With all the challenges facing our community, it is obvious that people like Hargett will serve to improve our community as long as it takes, and he works and serves to make Charlotte better every day.
You can also donate school supplies at any Showmars, Ashley HomeStore and E.R. Plumbing Services until Aug.14.
Learn more about 9 School Tools at www.9SchoolTools.com.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, public affairs manager at WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
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