Handmade Marketplace owner Jessie Mann, right, and Gemma Garwood invite customers to pay forward a coffee for someone else at the Kilmore business.

By Steph McNicol

KILMORE’s Handmade Marketplace owner Jessie Mann has jumped on board a social media initiative inviting community members to ‘pay forward’ a coffee for other people.

Cafés across Australia and the world have implemented the initiative, which lets people pay for two coffees and leave a sticky note for the someone struggling as payment for a coffee.

The sticky notes have messages, like, ‘enjoy a kindness coffee’ or ‘paid forward just for you’, or names of the buyers written on them.

Ms Mann said the idea was something her café always offered, but social media ‘definitely amped up the pay it forward coffee’.

“It is something we have always offered, customers write their name on a coffee cup and often a little message and we have stack them on the counter for people to see and take advantage of when they want or need to,” she said.

“The post it note idea was shared with me by one of my staff last week and has worked perfectly as it’s less space and it’s fun for the customers to choose a note with a little scribble on it wishing them a happy day and a delicious free coffee.

“We also often have customers request to pay for the person who has ordered around the same time as them. It’s beautiful.

“People are often too shy to ask to take advantage of a free coffee so we will chat to them while making their order and then ask them to choose a note that resonates with them and let them know that cuppa is a freebie.

“During such uncertain and anxious times, it really makes people stop and smile, thankful for the little gesture.”

The business owner said Handmade Marketplace suffered ‘immeasurably’ due to impacts of COVID-19, but she was grateful for the support of the community.

“The gravity of COVID-19 has not been felt in its entirety yet, we still cop blow after blow. It’s been devastating,” Ms Mann said.

“We are grateful to remain open at this time in a limited capacity, and grateful to our loyal customers, but at the same time we are hurting for our fellow business owners who’ve closed up yet again.

“Each day we are anxious, not knowing if we’ll be further affected by restrictions, but grateful by close of business that we’ve survived another day.

“Without such a supportive community, this could never have happened. So, the heartbreak of watching our business suffer has been equalled by the love and support we’ve felt each day by our community.”

Ms Mann said it was important to focus on kindness during the pandemic.

“At the end of the day, we are part of a community and we all only have one another to rely on. All we see and hear about right now is COVID-19, it’s the focus of our everyday lives,” she said.

“Taking a small gesture of a free coffee and passing it on, even if for only a few brief minutes, it distracts someone. They are smiling, experiencing gratitude, and appreciating something so simple, and thinking how they too can pay it forward.

“I think Kilmore residents need to be proud of how hard they’ve all tried and the team work we’ve seen unfold.

“As a community, we’ve made it this far. Surely it can only get better from here.”

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