This month, Sandy Greenlee has received seven messages from U.S. troops serving overseas. They all thanked her for sending a cup of coffee.
"Hello Sandy," one memo started from an Air Force pilot serving in Afghanistan. "Your message made me laugh. Thank you for that, and for my cup of coffee."
Greenlee started receiving troop letters earlier this year after she joined the Cup of Joe for a Joe program. Sponsored by Green Beans Coffee, the company operates cafes at military bases in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti East Africa, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Their online Cup of Joe for a Joe program was launched in 2009 as a way for civilians to show their appreciation to military personnel serving overseas.
"I've been doing this for a couple of months now," Greenlee said. "It just makes me feel so good."
Pfc. Andrew Layton, Greenlee's 24-year-old grandson, first informed her of the program after he received a free cup of coffee. To honor the troops, Greenlee immediately started giving.
The idea is simple. People like Greenlee are able to make $2 donations to send a cup of coffee and a letter of thanks to a randomly selected service member overseas. Troops are then notified via email about the donation and can receive their cup of coffee on their base. Many respond to the donors with thank you notes, like Allen Garneau, a member of the Coast Guard stationed at Bagram Airfield.
"Good morning to you Sandy," he recently wrote. "I first wish to thank you for your donation of coffee to us out here. It's one of those gifts we really do appreciate."
Included in all her donation messages, Greenlee informs service members to keep an eye out for her grandson, who's stationed at Forward Operating Base Fenty near Jalalabad. In his response, Garneau said he would.
"I'm at Bagram right now, but I expect to head out to Fenty for a mission in the next couple of weeks," he wrote. "So I'll be sure to keep my eyes open. I wish him a safe return to you soon."
"It's so much fun hearing from the troops," said Greenlee. "I've even gained a few pen pals."
Layton joined the Army in January 2013. He's been on a nine-month deployment since last October. As a gunner with the 22nd Engineer Clearance Company "Hooligan Nation," Layton is charged with clearing roads of improvised explosive devices, Greenlee said.
"I'm happy he's serving our country, but it's scary," she added. "I've told him, 'You're in God's hands.'"
Greenlee, wearing a RED Friday T-shirt, said she and the entire family are anxious for his safe return, including his wife, Kadee. The couple married last July.
"Remember everyone deployed," Greenlee explained. "That's what the RED stands for. We wear these shirts every Friday."
A Cortez native, Layton's family members include father, Craig Layton; mother, Shannon Williamson; step-father, Charlie Williamson; and grandparents Sandy and Garth Greenlee and Darline and Jimmy Suckla.
To learn more or to donate to the Cup of Joe for a Joe program, visit greenbeanscoffee.com/coj.