Multiple classes are working together on a new coffee distribution program at Two Harbors High School, "Hand to Hand Coffee," that involves students from the special education department and business and engineering classes.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, teachers and staff can have a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, chai or other tea delivered during the first period in an insulated coffee cup. The beverages are prepared and delivered by students in the special education classes as a way of teaching them practical and social skills and integrating them more in the student population.

"That's why it's called 'Hand to Hand Coffee' — because we are supporting each other in helping make and serve coffee," special education instructor Bobbi Mattson said. "Part of the purpose of it is to engage students with special needs with the general ed community at the school."

Mattson saw a few articles on similar programs at schools online and was inspired to propose the idea to administration.

"They were all for it," Mattson said. "Initially, we were going to start small with a single Keurig machine and just make single servings."

Temporary recyclable coffee cups line the Hand to Hand Coffee cart as the personalized insulated cups included with the program weren't quite ready for the first day of delivery. (Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)
Temporary recyclable coffee cups line the Hand to Hand Coffee cart as the personalized insulated cups included with the program weren't quite ready for the first day of delivery. (Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)

Mattson then connected with business teacher Chris Lempke, who proposed letting his students run the business side of the operation. The idea expanded to include other beverages and drip Arco coffee. Mark Schlangen's engineering students will help blast the insulated reusable cups with Hand to Hand's logo and a personalized name when the cups arrive in the mail.

Students were also encouraged to submit logo designs for the program. Eighth grader AJ Mattson's design was chosen.

The first official delivery day was Tuesday, Nov. 5. Students Ryan Smith and Lucas Anderson filled the first 23 orders and brought the cups around on a small cart during the first period of classes.

When asked how the first delivery went, Smith said, "It was good." He said he enjoyed knocking on the teachers' doors and bringing in the coffee.

Teachers can choose coffee, hot chocolate, chai tea, regular tea or cappuccino for a quarter and pay a flat fee of $30-$50, including the cost of the personalized cup.

The service is currently only open to staff, but Mattson hopes to open the beverage corner to students in the future.