Local coffee shop receives surprise $10,000 donation to stay afloat

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COLUMBIA — Love Coffee received a surprise $10,000 donation from the Veterans United Foundation on Tuesday. The nonprofit will use the donation to buy more equipment and ramp up its baked goods sales to stay afloat.

Love Coffee is a local, nonprofit coffee shop that hires people with disabilities. It was only open for about 3 weeks before closing in March due to COVID-19. 

It reopened May 14, but faced severe financial struggles—until now.

Love Coffee posted on Facebook about potentially closing its doors for good last Friday. Now, they can’t keep their doors shut.

“All of sudden, the people of Columbia showed up,” Love Coffee manager David Wilson said. “On Saturday we had a line out to the parking lot, out to the streets. There were two or three of us in here, and we ran out of food by 10 o’clock. It was just amazing.”

The Facebook post has so far received 529 shares, and the post is how Veterans United Foundation pushed to get money to Love Coffee in less than a week.

"This was one we funded a little bit out of our funding cycle because the need was so immediate," Erik Morse, the president of the Veterans United Foundation, said. "And so they were able to get the equipment they needed."

Love Coffee also received $8,000 in online donations from the community in just one day.

Wilson said more than 200 people come in each day. It’s the busiest the coffee shop has ever been.

“I saw on Facebook they were having financial difficulties, and they might be closing,” new customer Lisa Delissio said. “So I wanted to get out there and come check it out.”

With the new equipment, Love Coffee plans to sell more goods in its cafe, but also in local stores.

There are Love Coffee products sold in Hy-Vee on Conley, and they are also in talks to expand to other Hy-Vee locations and Schnucks. Chris McD’s steakhouse will use Love Coffee’s bread for sandwiches. 

Currently, the cafe employs 19 people with varying disabilities. But more customers and more production means Love Coffee plans to offer more jobs.

“The more production is just to get more employees,” Wilson said. “So if we can make more food we can get more employees out there to sell our product.”

Wilson said Love Coffee is not hiring yet, but it will be soon.