Okung, the Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl left tackle, was serving lattes and frappuccinos on Wednesday as part of Starbucks’ partnership with the Seahawks A Better Seattle campaign, which raises money for community programs in the Seattle area and is lead by head coach Pete Carroll. Starbucks made a $50,000 grant to A Better Seattle and Carroll and several of the team’s players responded by volunteering at Seattle-area Starbucks on Oct. 23 to raise awareness for the campaign, which continues through Oct. 29.
"Hopefully we'll raise a lot of money through the effort here and in the course of the week that we're together with Starbucks," Carroll said. "Starbucks has put up a big number – $50,000 – for us to kick start this thing. It's so important that we raise awareness of how we can help our communities become safer and stronger, and help our young people get a better shot at the things they can do in their lifetime.”
One of the youth programs that A Better Seattle supports is the Alive & Free Street Outreach Program. According the their website, “the Alive & Free Outreach Network connects high risk, gang influenced youth and young adults with positive support systems and provides Critical Incident Response management for major incidents of youth violence and major event safety planning.”
Carroll has invited those involved in the program to Seahawks practices as a way of getting the organization more intimately involved with positive community outreach programs.
"Our connection with the YMCA, which supports Alive & Free, the program that we support as well, is really a great connection showing that we can do it locally, we can do it with the corporate aspect and also our sports teams around the area," Carroll said.
This philanthropic synergy was on display Wednesday as Seahawks players signed autographs, posed for pictures, and surprised unaware regulars who popped in for their afternoon coffee. And while many of the players acquitted themselves well when delivering drinks, they might not want to quit their day job.
“It’s hilarious to watch them working behind the counters,” Starbucks patron and Seahawks fan Katie Klocke said.
Those looking to contribute money to the A Better Seattle campaign can visit participating western Washington area Starbucks through Oct. 29 or donate online by clicking here.