Over the last 12 years, Toybox and Kingdom Coffee have been working together to change the lives of street children in Guatemala. Here, Lynne Morris, Toybox CEO, shares why this partnership is so important, how it transpired and what it means to both organisations today.
Who are Kingdom Coffee
Kingdom Coffee was founded in 1998 to promote Fairtrade and fairness. Over 20 years on they continue to deliver products that are Fairtrade, ethical, sustainable, high quality yet affordable. And we here at Toybox can testify to some delicious coffee. As part of their corporate social responsibility Kingdom Coffee want to donate £100,000 to Toybox, to date having already donated £80,000!
An inspired partnership
Like most credible companies, Kingdom Coffee believe they have a responsibility to support the planet and its people. Their business in the coffee trade means they want to improve the lives of coffee growing communities around the world, allowing us to enjoy that early morning beverage knowing with each sip something good is happening.
For Jane and Darren (pictured above), Kingdom Coffee owners, the reason for choosing Toybox is more personal. During a recent visit, Darren told me that the story and image of a young girl called Ana from Guatemala City which Toybox used in some of their materials touched their souls. The image of Ana sitting on a dirty pavement surround by chaos and dirt drinking coffee from a small, dirt-stained polystyrene cup resonated so strongly with Darren and Jane and the image of Ana reduced Jane to tears.
As Darren was telling me this story I realised I was there when that photo was taken at La Terminal in Zone 4 in Guatemala City and I had spent some time with Ana. I recalled she was sitting on the pavement, drinking coffee, surrounded by violence and aggression. I remember being overwhelmed by the chaos and confusion but also focused on the detail that a young child was drinking coffee. I spent some time drawing with Ana and then we had to leave. The guilt I felt when I left her to go back to the safety of a hotel and hot shower was overwhelming. A little girl in a place no child should be. No wonder this story gripped, inspired and motivated the team at Kingdom Coffee.
The beautiful matching of organisational values
Over the last 12 years, we knew that the values, behaviours and ethos of Kingdom Coffee and Toybox were closely aligned but it was during COVID that it became evident how truly aligned our values are. During the pandemic, we contacted all our corporate partners to see how they were doing and to see if they needed to reduce their donations – which we completely expected and understood. But the response we got from Darren was,
‘We were, like a lot of companies, losing a lot of money, but we just knew we needed to give as much as we could, because if we were suffering, well I just can’t imagine what it was like for kids on the street with no homes – with nothing really. So, we dug deep, and we have come out the other side and are grateful we could continue to support Toybox. It was our moral and social duty to do so.’
What an exceptional response and one we were so grateful to have had from our other corporate supporters. When you know a company is giving sacrificially to support the street children Toybox works alongside – it makes us re-double our efforts to make companies like Kingdom Coffee proud of the partnership they have with us.
Achieving more together
Ana will never know she inspired a partnership which has spanned a decade and changed children’s lives, but she did. Thank you Jane, Darren, and all the team at Kingdom Coffee – your true partnership is soul nourishing and has ensured a better life for thousands of street children.
For more information about Toybox's work in Guatemala, please visit www.toybox.org.uk/our-work/countries/guatemala
You can find out more about Kingdom Coffee on their website www.kingdomcoffee.co.uk