Coffee chain celebrates anniversary with the underprivileged

Busker Kimberley Yong (centre) leads one of the kids out to dance, while her fellow buskers Lis Sahanaya (fourth from right) and Syahiran (third from right back), and other volunteers lead the crowd through "Rasa Sayang" during Starbucks Malaysia's 17th anniversary at Bangsar Village 2.

What is a better way to mark 17 years of premium coffee and frappes in Malaysia, than to celebrate the event with 17 charitable organisations and homes simultaneously across the country?

In Kuala Lumpur, about 70 kids from shelters and charitable organisations in Klang Valley turned up to celebrate Starbucks Malaysia’s 17th anniversary in Bangsar Village 2.

“We are celebrating this simultaneously in four other locations as well,” said Starbucks Malaysia’s Head of Operations Cheyanne Koh, adding that Johor Baru, Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu were also holding 17th anniversary celebrations at major malls in these five locations.

The celebrations got started with volunteers from non-profit organisation Hope Worldwide entertaining with a medley of popular Christmas tunes.

Then, a round through a series of children’s activity stations such as face-and hand-painting, picture colouring and a photo booth.

For kids like Sathiswaran Paramesvaran, 10, this event was also the first time he had ever gotten any sort of body painting.

“It’s fun, I never did this before,” he beamed, as volunteer Varongporn Na Bangsai did a spotted blue leopard on his hand.
Interestingly, all the performances, and even childrens’ activity stations were manned by volunteers.

Prior to the celebrations, the company had run a social media registration campaign asking if there were volunteers to help out with the anniversary celebrations.

“I follow Starbucks on Facebook, so I just registered myself to help out and I got the confirmation about two weeks ago,” said Varongporn.

Yoyo artistic performer Adam Hamzah said he had seen the call for volunteers on Facebook, and from there he called in his fellow performance artists Ho Swee Jim and Zafran Aqil, entertaining the crowd with their loops, whips and string tricks.

Other event entertainment included a mini-Zumba class while magician Hazeeq wowed adults and kids alike with his bag of tricks.

“All in all, we have 285 volunteers in the five locations. Actually, we didn’t anticipate that the response would be so huge for volunteer turnout,” Koh said.

A “birthday song” for Starbucks’ 17 years in Malaysia was sung, and while everyone feasted on two big cakes baked for the occasion, buskers Lis Sahanaya, Kimberly Yong and Syahiran Malek entertained the floor with live pop music.

The event ended with another round of Christmas carols, while Santa Claus made an early appearance to give out candy canes to the children.
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