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Spread the warmth


Coffee Cart has served students at WLHS for 19 years

by: VERN UYETAKE -  West Linn High School senior Evan McNocol pours himself a cup of coffee before school starts at Coffee Cart, located in New Life Church.New Life Church parishioners have been warming the hearts and bellies of West Linn High School students and staff for 19 years with the church’s free cafe, Coffee Cart. The morning cafe offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate and pastries Monday through Friday during the school year from 7 to 8:30 a.m.

In 2011, Coffee Cart served 11,352 visitors — a 35 percent increase over 2010 — and 136 of those students were served in just one day.

Coffee Cart was founded in 1994 due to troublesome circumstances: High school students were smoking and defaming church property in the back parking lot.

“The church was at a loss as to what to do,” ministry leader Andie Reavely said. “We wanted to provide another alternative.”

In an effort to interact and build relationships with the students, church volunteers put up a table on the front porch and offered free coffee and doughnuts. Gradually, the monikered Coffee Cart moved into the church foyer and then into the building. Coffee Cart was given its own space — complete with a miniature kitchen, spacious bistro seating area and coffee bar — when the church was renovated several years ago.

“The goal is to love the kids as Jesus loves them and to be gracious and giving and serve them,” Reavely said, noting teachers, bus drivers and administrators often stop by. “We just want to let them know we are here for them and support them. ... We see it as a mode of displaying unconditional love and grace for the kids.”

Every day a handful to a dozen students, many of them regulars who come every day, pick up a treat and hang out before school starts. Some students come in because their parents dropped them off early; some come in to avoid the cold.

“It’s kind of a connecting place where kids are connecting with each other and the community,” Reavely said. “It’s been really neat for volunteers to build relationships with the kids and see friendships form here.”by: VERN UYETAKE - Volunteer Joan Meyers has volunteered to serve students at Coffee Cart for 17 years.

West Linn High School even donated a plaque in appreciation of its service on Coffee Cart’s 10-year anniversary.

Coffee Cart is one of the largest ministries of New Life Church. The cafe is run by Reavely and about 12 volunteers. The cafe is unique to the church in that it’s run strictly on donations and is not operated under the church’s general budget.

Donations — monetary and other — come from church members and West Linn businesses like Albertsons and Willamette Coffee House, which have donated day-old pastries and more for the last 19 years.

“There have been a lot of generous donations for Coffee Cart,” Reavely said. “People get excited about the vision and the heart we have for the high school and kids. We’ve been amazed that generations of people, both in the church body and community, have come behind us and supported this.”

For more information or to make a donation, call 503-656-8600.