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Hillary Depman Tayson, manager of Bel Air's Coffee Coffee, helped create a Giving Tree at the coffee shop.
Hillary Depman Tayson, manager of Bel Air's Coffee Coffee, helped create a Giving Tree at the coffee shop. (BRYNA ZUMER | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

One Bel Air area coffee shop is putting a creative spin on giving this holiday season by getting its customers to "pay it forward" to each other.

Coffee Coffee, at the Festival at Bel Air shopping center, set up a "Giving Tree" where customers can buy a drink, muffin or just pay for the next person down the line.

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The "brew it forward" purchases are then written on coffee sleeves that can be redeemed by someone who fits the description, such as, "one large coffee for someone who has lost a loved one and is feeling sad" or "a bagel for a mom-to-be."

The 22-year-old shop, which also offers plenty of gift items and regional specialties, put up the tree on "Giving Tuesday," a global day of giving designated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

"We always do something where we give back to the community for holidays," manager Hillary Depman Tayson, whose family owns the shop, said Wednesday.

"We thought it would be fun for our customers to do something for each other," she explained.

The tree has drawn attention from as far as Fort Meade, where a student profiled the concept for a video project, she said.

"People love it," she said, adding some of the purchases have targeted teachers are members of the military, as the shop is near a military recruiting center.

More people have signed on to "brew it forward" than to pick up the sleeves, she said, as many customers are modest and "don't want to feel like they need something for free."

"It's been popular. We might leave it up and not take it down after Christmas," she said.

Employee Megan Gileza said everyone has been very generous.

"I think it's a great idea," she said, explaining the concept is more about the community relationships the store supports. "It feels right for a place like this."

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