Coffee Shop Keeping Hearts Warm During Holidays

December 5, 2019

It is that time of year again. The family has gotten together for a Thanksgiving feast, the holiday chill is in the air and soon, stockings will be hung by the chimney with care. This holiday season, you are going to need two things—a way to stay warm and gifts for loved ones to show them your yuletide cheer. Sampson Community College has both!

Students from SCC’s Academy of Continuing Excellence (ACE) has operated it’s Rise and Shine Coffee Shop for two years now and has been the subject of rave reviews. This year, the coffee shop is being operated in conjunction with the program’s annual Christmas Store, where high quality gifts are made and sold by students enrolled in the program.

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ACE’s Coffee Shop and Christmas Store have everything you need this holiday season.

“The creation of these items is a great way for the College to integrate the ACE students’ exploration of being creative, the need for the students to understand simple business concepts and to learn to take pride in their creations,” says Amanda Bradshaw, Dean of SCC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs. “The students love this time of the year and their excitement shows once you walk in the door to purchase one of their handmade items. All the funds collected from the sale of their goods goes directly back to the students and their classroom experiences.”

The coffee stand is hosted by the students and is located in the Workforce Development hallway in the East building on campus. Money raised from coffee sales are used for ACE student activities fees so they can participate in campus activities.

Kim Testerman, who helps ACE students with the shop and the store, says she cannot think of a better way to celebrate the holiday season and the spirit of giving than through these two initiatives. ”This is a chance for the students to learn what it’s like to set up shop, interact and sell products and be able to meet and socialize with new people,” Testerman says. “My hope is that this will benefit them when they enter further educational or career paths in the future.”

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ACE’s Coffee Shop and Christmas Store have everything you need this holiday season.

ACE assists students, at least 18 years of age, with intellectual disabilities in reading, writing, math and vocational skills. The goal for everyone is to create a smooth transition into post-secondary education or employment opportunities. No high school diploma or certificate is required.

A recent success story is Courtney Fennel who went through the program last year. For her, the ACE program was more than a school for learning. It was a path for success. While in the program, she successfully applied to and was hired by Wendy’s restaurant in Clinton. “This program is a transitional program,” says Testerman. “We work on math and reading skills and eventually help these students transition to the workforce. These students improve socially and academically and that can be a great plus within the community.”

The ACE program offers applications in reading, writing, math and vocational skills. There are no costs associated with the ACE Program. The Christmas Shop is open to the public. Those looking for some gift ideas or would like more information about the ACE program contact Testerman at