Lending Baristas a Helping Hand During the Holidays


On a typical day, Laurie Brooke, Starbucks senior systems analyst, develops technical solutions for projects at the company’s Seattle headquarters known as the Starbucks Support Center (SSC). However, one day per year, she puts on a green apron for a special assignment at her local Starbucks store.

Brooke is one of hundreds of partners (employees) who participate in Holiday Helper each year. Through this program, SSC partners are invited to trade a few hours in the office for a shift at a Seattle-area store during the busy holiday season.

For 20 consecutive years, Brooke has made time to assist baristas with store responsibilities such as sampling holiday coffee beverages and helping customers select Starbucks merchandise.

“I like the feeling of giving back, especially during the holidays,” said Brooke. “It feels really good to know that I can go out and make a difference for the partners in our stores.”

Brooke’s commitment to the program is noteworthy, and no one is more impressed by her dedication than her husband, Dennis, who believes his wife holds the record for the most consistent participation and said he’s “very proud of her.”

Most rewarding for Brooke has been the opportunity to connect with partners in more than a dozen stores.

“I’ve worked at 16 different stores,” Brooke said. “Over the years, I tried to work at as many stores as I could.”

Brooke plans to retire from Starbucks in February 2016, making this holiday season her 21st and final Holiday Helper shift. She sees the program’s value and is confident that it will continue for years to come.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” said Brooke. “You get so much more than you put in and it gives you a real appreciation for the work and value that store partners bring to the Starbucks brand.”

What does it take to prepare a Starbucks store for the holidays?

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Top takeaways from Starbucks 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders