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Westminster coffee shop, aiming to be 'good community partner,’ takes on worthy causes in fundraising program

Dave Baldwin, owner of Furnace Hills Coffee, and his daughter Erin at their shop on Main Street in Westminster on Friday, October 11. They created a coffee blend called Buddy Walk, with proceeds benefiting the Buddy Walks locally and across the country.
Dave Baldwin, owner of Furnace Hills Coffee, and his daughter Erin at their shop on Main Street in Westminster on Friday, October 11. They created a coffee blend called Buddy Walk, with proceeds benefiting the Buddy Walks locally and across the country. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)

A Westminster coffee shop recently unveiled a fundraising program that’s designed to give a boost to different sorts of local causes.

Last month, Furnace Hills Coffee announced a fundraising system in which the shop will donate one-third of bagged coffee sales to a cause or organization.

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Furnace Hills Coffee, at 71 W. Main St., has had a philanthropic mission for several years. Owner Dave Baldwin strives to advance the intellectually disabled community while serving up caffeinated beverages. The shop raises funds for the National Down Syndrome Society by donating a portion of coffee sales to Buddy Walks across the country and makes a point to hire people who are intellectually disabled. Baldwin’s daughter Erin, who has Down syndrome, is chief roaster at Furnace Hills.

Furnace Hills not only wants to raise funds for causes dear to its employees’ hearts, but for causes that are important to others.

Baldwin said he thought, “Why raise funds just for the Buddy Walk when there are other organizations in need?”

Anyone interested is invited to fill out a form on the shop’s website with their organization’s name, and then a representative of Furnace Hills will be in touch to build an online store for them through the Furnace Hills website. Through that website, an organization can sell bags of coffee and receive one-third of the profit, according to Baldwin. The shop will even rebrand one of its existing blends with a new label that speaks to the cause the coffee will benefit.

“We just want to be a good community partner,” Baldwin said.

There’s also an option to have an organization’s members sell bags of coffee themselves, Baldwin said, like in the way Girl Scouts sell boxes of cookies and each troop keeps a portion of the profit.

Furnace Hills Coffee’s website suggests the program for schools, youth sports, churches, marching bands and more.

Another benefit to the fundraising system, Baldwin said, is getting Furnace Hills Coffee’s name out there and spreading their message that people with intellectually disabilities are producing the coffee.

Currently, Furnace Hills Coffee is helping raise funds for a Boston Marathon runner, a family battling cancer that wants to get vocational training for their daughter, a Christian school in Pennsylvania saving for student trips, and for Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, Baldwin said.

How long a fundraiser lasts is not set in stone. Thus far, organizations have imposed their own deadlines, Baldwin said.

Furnace Hills has contributed to other fundraisers over the years when people asked, but the business established and publicized its official fundraising system in January, according to Baldwin.

“It’s always been something we’ve done, we’ve just never pushed it,” he said.

When they made the announcement, Baldwin said, they offered 11 spots for new causes. As of Wednesday, seven openings remain, though he said Furnace Hills is working on a website where it can host unlimited fundraisers.

Those interested may visit furnacehillscoffee.com, then hover over the “about” tab and click on “fundraising,” or email Dave Baldwin at dave@furnacehillscoffee.com.

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