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Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee donates to school districts in Western Massachusetts

When all nonessential businesses were forced to close in March, Dean Cycon, founder and CEO of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee in Western Massachusetts, noticed a surprising trend in sales at his company.

Business for the small coffee roasting company in Orange had risen dramatically overnight, he said. Online sales had previously made up only 30 percent of the company’s income but by April it had become 60 percent.

“All of a sudden, we found ourselves with more business than we knew what to do with and I found it rather odd and a little unsettling that during this pandemic we're actually making more money than before,” Cycon said.

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With that money, Dean’s Beans is now giving out thousands to local school districts in Western Mass. to help them supply meals to their communities.

Springfield and Greenfield public schools will receive $5,000, and Athol-Royalston and Gill-Montague regional schools are each in line for $4,000. Orange elementary schools, Ralph C Mahar Regional School, and Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools are due to receive $3,500, $2,500, and $2,000 respectively, the company said.

“We’re going to be doing this bi-weekly until things get back to normal,” Cycon said.

. They do not have any cafes but deliver coffee all over the country. Cycon said he started the company 28 years ago to see whether it would be possible for coffee businesses to run environmental and social justice programs while still remaining profitable.

Cycon has a background in advocating for environmental causes and indigenous peoples’ rights. Dean’s Beans runs programs in countries they get beans from like Colombia, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia, to sustain and develop the farmers who produce their product.

All of the school districts in the program have told Cycon that they are struggling to keep up with the demand to supply food to their communities, he said.

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“There's such a surge of people now, because so many people have lost their jobs,” he said. “[The school districts] simply don't have the budget for it and they're not getting extra money from the [government] so our donations on a bi-weekly basis are really essential to keeping their programs afloat.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents have filed for unemployment benefits after being laid off.

Cycon said it only made sense for him to give back to the community that has supported his business for decades.

“I look around and we're doing well and they are suffering,” he said. “So to me it's just a matter of neighborliness or community concern. We want to support the people who supported us. It's really that simple.”

In addition to the donations, Dean’s Beans is also giving away hundreds of pounds of coffee to residents. Anyone can nominate someone to receive a free pound bag of coffee and Dean’s Beans will ship it to them. They have also shipped over 33,500 metal ties to small businesses in 12 different statesthat are making face masks. The ties would typically be used in coffee bags, Cycon said, but they can help masks adhere to the face, creating a tighter seal.

He encouraged other businesses to give back to their communities in any way they can.

“It doesn’t have to be giving money to a school,” he said. “If you were innovative enough and creative enough to start a company and have it succeed then you can apply that same innovation into some aspect of problem solving for this time.”

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Stephanie Purifoy can be reached at stephanie.purifoy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @stephbpurifoy,