By Alex Lippa
---- — HAMPSTEAD — Edward Goyette can’t believe his eyes when he looks at the front of his coffeehouse.
“It’s like a mountain of food,” said Goyette, the owner of BeanTowne Coffee House.
Goyette is looking at the nearly 800 food items his customers have donated to the food pantry at St. Anne Church. The shop’s work with the food pantry and other community organizations led to national recognition recently.
BeanTowne Coffee House was honored by “The Steve Harvey Show” earlier this month as the best coffee shop in the United States for community service.
BeanTowne was nominated by a customer, then won a poll of the show’s viewers. Goyette flew to Chicago to receive the award last week. The show will air on Friday.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Goyette said. “Doing community service and outreach is incredibly important to us. We’re glad we’ve become a real good social contact for people. We want to come up with creative ways to solve problems.”
He also is proud of the work his crew did last year to support a girl who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“Someone came to me and said all they need is a fulltime wheelchair,” he said. “It would only be $800, so I thought we could pay for this ourselves.”
The shop sold $10 coffees in hand-decorated cups with good luck messages. They ended up selling 160 of the cups in just a week and a half.
“I was blown away,” he said. “I didn’t believe how eager people were to help her.”
This year, he heard from a mother whose daughter has Tay-Sachs disease, an incurable disease.
“The girl wasn’t supposed to live past 2, but she just had her third birthday this week,” he said.
Goyette put a hat on the counter and encouraged customers to donate to those working to find a cure for the disease. Within a few weeks, they had raised $1,700.
But helping local food pantries is Goyette’s biggest endeavor. The shop has set a goal of collecting 1,000 food items by Christmas.
“I’ve never been in a job where community service has been pushed like this,” said Ricky Cash, one of the managers at the shop. “The staff has been donating tips to buy more food items. It’s great.”
Fran Rosenau, who organizes the pantry at St. Anne Church, is thankful for the support she gets from Goyette.
“We don’t survive without community support,” Rosenau said. “A business such as his, which gets a lot of foot traffic, is very important to us.”
Goyette will be donating the food to the pantry next week.
The Rev. David Yasenka of Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church in Salem said Goyette also helps out with their food pantry.
“They’ve done so much,” he said. “It’s great to have them and other businesses in the community doing their part to support us.”
Goyette said he was floored to receive the award from the show.
“It was surreal,” he said. “It was a real testament to what we’ve been doing. To have what we breed here perpetuate and grow is very fulfilling.”