In a heartwarming tale from Huntington, West Virginia, college students rallied together to support their beloved Starbucks barista, Karen Collinsworth, who had encountered a series of unfortunate events.
Collinsworth, a 65-year-old supervisor at the Marshall University Campus Starbucks, was more than just a barista; she was the heart and soul of the coffee shop, fostering a sense of community among the students she worked with.
The story began when Collinsworth’s aging 2004 Kia fell victim to a double dose of misfortune. First, a thief targeted her car, stealing the catalytic converter, and then another opportunist made off with interior components. It was a devastating blow for a woman who had always struggled with her car’s reliability.
Touched by her predicament, Collinsworth’s colleagues, led by a determined barista named Gray, felt compelled to take action. They believed there had to be a way to help their cherished coworker.
“I love coming into work knowing that she’s gonna be there. I talk to her about literally everything,” Cassie Gray, a sophomore at Marshall who works at Starbucks with Collinsworth, told TODAY. “She’s like my mom when I’m away from home and can’t talk to my mom.”
Together, they brainstormed ideas and decided to launch a fundraising campaign. Given the wide recognition and affection for Collinsworth in the campus community, they were optimistic about the outcome.
Their plea for assistance spread like wildfire across social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and YikYak. The response was beyond their wildest dreams.
By September 15th, the fundraiser had collected an impressive $40,000, featuring a generous $5,000 contribution from the president of Marshall University.
“We all just kind of talked about it and we floated around the idea of starting a fundraiser for her,” Gray said. “After work when I got back to my dorm, I decided to just make it because I figured even if we couldn’t raise that much money, any amount would help her. It was just kind of like a spur of the moment (thing).”
The amount continued to grow, eventually reaching a point where Collinsworth’s neighbor inadvertently revealed the surprise before her colleagues could present it to her.
With the overwhelming support from her coworkers and the community, Karen Collinsworth found herself in the fortunate position of being able to explore a new Subaru. The enduring love and goodwill she had garnered over decades of serving coffee with a warm smile had truly come full circle.