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CT nonprofit bringing coffee to combat zones

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WALLINGFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Thousands of miles away from home, troops in combat zones are finding comfort in a coffee cup. That soothing cup of Joe is possible thanks to some volunteers in Wallingford.

Palette after palette of boxes of coffee were piled high in the back of a tractor trailer, and all of the java will one day join troops serving overseas.

"The smile on people's faces," Tom Jastermsky said. "It's something from home."

It's all part of Holy Joe's Café, which is a nonprofit, all volunteer organization that sends coffee, K-cups and even coffee machines around the world.

Jastermsky is the one-man army who makes sure the boxes of Joe get where they have to go.

"We do all the Navy, the carrier strike groups, the subs out of Groton and Georgia, Army Rangers," Jastermsky said. "All the special forces have our coffee too, so wherever the military goes, our coffee goes with them."

A truckload of about 500,000 K-Cups and 45 Keurig coffee makers left Wallingford on Friday. It was headed to Marines out in California who will take it with them when they're deployed. It's a huge operation now, but started out a few years ago as just a grass roots effort

"It's incredible," said Eloise Hazelwood, who is the Wallingford health director.

Eight years ago, Hazelwood was in Iraq as a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard. She said Chaplains would make coffee and invited soldiers to get away from the noise and stress. It was an oasis in the desert.

But they would often run out, and that's when she put out a plea to her church back home.

"He made the announcement to the congregation that they really needed coffee and Tom has been an incredible godsend to the troops because he embraced that mission," Hazelwood said.

It's a gesture that's not lost on those who see it as comfort in a cup.

"No matter what time of night, and truly you could leave your tent at 3 a.m., there was always somebody there having a cup of coffee, someone to talk to," Hazelwood said.

"It's a taste of home for most and that they're not forgotten," Jastermsky said. "That's the most important thing."

If you are interested in sending donations to combat zones, please send them to Holy Joe's Café at the following address:

First Congregational Church
c/o Holy Joe's Café 23 South Main St.
Wallingford, CT 06492

For more information on the Holy Joe's Café, you can call 1-888-970-7994 or click here.

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