Man's Social Experiment Starts With Cup of Coffee

6 years 9 months 1 week ago Friday, August 12 2011 Aug 12, 2011 Friday, August 12, 2011 3:17:00 AM CDT August 12, 2011 in News
By: Dan Jaehnig, WJAR

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - At the Starbucks in Wayland Square in Providence, whether it's iced or hot, tall or venti, you'd never know how one cup of coffee can change lives.

But mobile consultant Jonathan Stark, of Warwick, sure does.

"A small gesture can change someone's day," he said.

Give a penny, take a penny is the concept behind Stark's new "experiment in social sharing".

He has put a picture of his Starbucks card online so that anyone in the world can use his account to purchase a cup of coffee.

To get a free cup, save the photo of Stark's card on a smartphone, go to a Starbucks and scan the barcode.

Stark's card doesn't have an unlimited balance, and without the second part of the experiment its funds would be depleted in no time.

Stark said you can also donate to his card. (If you want to donate to Jonathan's card, go to the Starbucks website and click 'Reload a card'. His card number is 6061006913522430.)

The experiment has gone viral.

"Anybody can use it, anybody can power it up, reload it with cash, anybody can use it for coffee and every time the balance changes, Twitter sends out a new tweet," Stark said.

Already making national news, Stark's Facebook page is out of control with people writing, "This is cool," or "I donated $15." Some people have even submitted videos.

Stark said there are protective safeguards in place, but he fears scammers could use it for other reasons.

Stark has learned at least one thing about his experiment.

"I learned that people are ready to buy things with the phone," he said.

Unexpectedly is the lesson Stark learned about how one cup of coffee can change people's lives.

"(A father) thanked me (on his Facebook page) for doing this so he could say to his son that, 'Look, there are good people in the world.' That's super heavy. I love that," Stark said.

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