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Starbucks Statement on Donating Coffee to U.S. Marines

Company response to Internet rumor

September 2, 2004

Thank you for taking the time to contact Starbucks regarding coffee donations to those serving in our armed forces.

Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside or overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy. While Starbucks as a company cannot directly donate to military personnel, many of our partners (employees) show their support by donating coffee.

Recently, there was an e-mail circulating the internet that contained misinformation about Starbucks and our support of the military. Starbucks was able to locate the author who turned out to be a Marine Sergeant. He was very grateful that we contacted him and apologized for any misunderstanding, as he did not intend to spread the rumor. He subsequently sent an e-mail to his original distribution list correcting his mistake, which I've included at the end of this e-mail.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify Starbucks policy regarding charitable contributions. We are able to donate to nonprofit organizations that are designated as public charities under Section 501(c) (3) of the IRS Code, including public libraries and schools. The U.S. military or individual military personnel do not qualify as a public charity.

However, on an individual level, many Starbucks partners have collected and shipped numerous pounds of Starbucks coffee overseas. Starbucks partners receive one pound of free coffee each week as an employee benefit (known as "partner mark-out"). Many of our partners have elected to send their weekly mark-out of coffee to members of the military or military families, and related organizations.

As an example of this generosity, our partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly mark out coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they are able to enjoy a little piece of home. Our customer relations department in Seattle donated hundreds of pounds of coffee to the sailors in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group. These are just a few examples of our partners supporting the troops. We recognize and appreciate the very personal connection that customers have with us and how they might miss their Starbucks Experience while overseas.

Thank you again for writing and ask you to accept our deepest appreciation to servicemen and women and hope you remain a valued Starbucks customer. If you have any additional feedback or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us at (800) 235-2883 or email us at info@starbucks.com.

David Campbell
Customer Relations
Starbucks Coffee Company

Text of Sgt. Wright's Email:

Dear Readers,

Almost 5 months ago I sent an e-mail to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard by word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn't support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn't do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many copies of their company's policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick and wrong letter that I sent out to you.

Now I ask that you all pass this email around to everyone you passed the last one to. Thank you very much for understanding about this.

Howard C. Wright
1st Force Recon Co
1st Plt PLT RTO

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Starbucks Refuses to Donate Coffee to U.S. Marines?

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