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Volunteers brew up some fun for homeless pets

When you think of Starbucks, you probably think of delish coffee, creative baristas and cozy, welcoming locations (and possibly mermaids). However, what you might not think of is a group of dedicated volunteers who go the extra mile to help animals.

Staff from Southern Utah Starbucks recently volunteered at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society.

Members of Starbucks’ Southern Utah division roll up their sleeves multiple times a year to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, helping with a variety of projects. They even make some of the more tedious volunteer activities fun (we’re looking at you, weeds). Infectious laughter fills the air as team members connect with each other, enjoy being outside, and bond over their shared love of furry friends.

Speaking of weeds, the Starbucks volunteers have cheerfully pulled about 10,000 of those fast-growing, prickly plants and filled multiple trailers with ginormous tumbleweeds (seriously, they’re huge) during their visits. They’ve also deep-cleaned various animal care areas and helped prepare the piggy houses for summer and winter by replacing old bedding with fresh, cozy straw, making their beds comfortable and sweet-smelling.

“When I took over my district a year and a half ago, I needed to find a way to bring the partners [employees] together since our stores are spread out,” says Amanda Williams, Southern Utah Starbucks division manager. “We love helping with projects around the Sanctuary, spending time with the animals and bringing the partners together. Most of them have never met before.”

The Starbucks volunteers have become a much-anticipated presence at the Sanctuary. Their visits are met with cheers and excitement from the staff, who know that large volunteer groups make light work of big projects like deep cleaning pig houses. Tasks that would take Sanctuary staff days or weeks can be accomplished in a morning when the Starbucks team is involved.

“This collaborative effort not only enhances our ability to complete larger projects but also fosters a deeper connection between our volunteers and the Sanctuary,” says Kira Ikeda, Best Friends volunteer manager.

Amanda agrees, noting the broader impact of their work. “Our partners have gained a sense of what community service is and how impactful it is,” she says. “They see how efficiently our group can work and all the animals and staff that benefit from it. We have also had four partners adopt after they volunteered.”

Indeed, a perk of the group’s efforts is the animals they’ve adopted. They’ve given loving homes to cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies, all now enjoying the happy lives they deserve.

The dedication of the Starbucks Southern Utah division has left a lasting impact on the Sanctuary and its residents. Their continued efforts not only improve the lives of the animals but also inspire others to get involved. As the Starbucks volunteers continue their work, they remind us of the power of teamwork and the profound impact that even small acts of kindness can have.

In the end, when you think of Starbucks, you might still think of delicious coffee, creative baristas, and cozy, welcoming locations. Now, you’ll also think of a group of dedicated volunteers who truly go the extra mile to help animals in need, proving that kindness and compassion are always on the menu. If your company or organization would like to have a Best Friends group volunteer experience, please contact




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