Coffee for Curt: CMS special education class donates $515 to Curt’s Closet

Left to right are Alex Chambers, Kami Young, teacher Kristen Tanner, Ashley Wilson, Tray Wilson, Tye Williams and aide Bobbie Maury. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Understanding the importance of giving back to the community, the special education class at Cullman Middle School created a coffee service at the school to raise money for a local organization. The students chose to donate the money to Curt’s Closet and presented a check for $515 to founder Ashley Wilson Thursday.

The young baristas got the idea of starting the Cullman Coffee Co. after a day of volunteering at Karma’s Coffee House.

Special education teacher Kristen Tanner explained, “We started the coffee company because I really wanted to do something for life skills. We’ve talked about how important it is to give back to the community so they researched places they wanted to give to and Curt’s Closet was one of them. They chose Curt’s Closet and they actually went and volunteered for Ashley this year so they’ve worked at Curt’s Closet and have seen what it looks like. But, one of the most important reasons that they chose it is because it’s Curt’s senior year.”

The students have delivered coffee to the teachers at Cullman Middle School every morning throughout the year. They made the coffee themselves inside their classroom and charged just $1 for a fresh cup of the teachers’ favorite coffees.

Tanner pointed out, “Every bit that they make, they put in an envelope. They count it and we’ve counted it up all year long so they’re using being able to count money that is also another big skill for them.”

Tanner thanked CMS Principal Lane Hill for his support and encouragement of the Cullman Coffee Co., sharing, “It was important for them. In a lot of schools, your special education classes don’t always get out much and they are not always seen. Our administrators are not that way. They want them involved as much as possible. They want the kids to be included. Our administrators are all about inclusion for our special needs kids. So now they know every member of this faculty and people know them, too, and makes them feel good, too.”

The students took a poll to learn the coffees the teachers would typically order at a coffee shop. They then began brewing those coffees each morning. They have 11 different coffees they can make and deliver each morning. One student, Kami Young, created her own special blend now called “The Kami.” Her recipe is a variation on the salted caramel mocha and quickly became the faculty favorite.

Wilson was moved to tears by the generosity shown by the students, saying, “These students mean the world to me and to know they chose Curt’s Closet for this just thrills my heart.”

Ashley also thanked the kids for the work they put in at Curt’s Closet, adding, “They were a huge help that day. They sorted clothes and put clothes out on the rack. They were amazing and I’d hire them in a heartbeat.”

The day volunteering was also a great lesson for developing life skills as they organized and sorted the clothes by sizes and colors.  

May 7 will be two years since the tragic death of Wilson’s son Curt Wilson, who was killed after mom and son were hit head-on by a drunk driver. Curt, who was just 15, would have been a senior at Cullman High School this year. Curt was a member of the Cullman Bearcat baseball team and a friend to all. Wilson began Curt’s Closet to her honor her son. The $515 will help bless other children and Wilson noted, “The 5 and the 15 equals 20. That was Curt’s number.”

Learn more about Curt’s Closet at

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