Nearly 2,000 elementary school students from across Huntington County are bringing smiles to customers at JJ’s Java with their Christmas coffee cup sleeve artwork.

Students from Flint Springs, Lincoln, Roanoke, Horace Mann, Salamonie School and Andrews elementary schools decorated sleeves with Christmas artwork for the local coffee shop in the first collaboration of its kind.

“This is actually a first,” said Lincoln Elementary art teacher Shelley Paschal. “It’s gone over really well.”

Elaine Felton, manager of JJ’s Java contacted all of the area elementary schools to see if students would like to participate, but Felton gives all the credit to Marissa Barber, a student at Huntington University, for the idea.

“We just bought the blank sleeves and we just delivered them to the schools or they picked them up and all the kids kindergarten through fifth they got to decorate one,” said Felton.

Felton says the coffee shop has been “crazy busy” with parents, teachers and others throughout the community stopping in for a cup of coffee featuring an original piece of student art.

“Even the customers who come in that don’t know anything about it or don’t have kids or grandkids in the school system just love it,” Felton said. “It just makes everybody’s day.”

Paschal was excited about the reaction to the artwork online, and says it’s a great way for the kids to showcase their art to an authentic audience.

“You see all of the Facebook posts where people have gotten their cups and they take a picture of it and posted, and that’s neat too because that reinforces that whole idea for the kids and that excitement, that other people than just their families are excited about their artwork,” Paschal said.

Each day of the week, JJ’s is alternating coffee sleeves from each of the elementary schools. On Wednesday, Lincoln Elementary’s student artwork was used.

“Today is Lincoln Day at JJ Java,” the Lincoln Elementary School Facebook page shared. “Treat yourself to a coffee, hot chocolate, or any hot drink and your cup will have a one of a kind masterpiece created by our very own students!”

With somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 custom coffee sleeves, Felton says they’re unable to find a sleeve decorated by a specific student.

“Unfortunately, logistically that’s impossible. Each school has around 300 to 400 students,” Felton said. “But it’s kind of fun if your kids go to that school, maybe it’s one of their friends or a neighbor.”

Felton said one educator from the elementary schools told her that the students ‘feel like celebrities’ because of their artwork receiving so much attention.

Felton says her favorite part is seeing the reactions of her customers when they receive their cup with personalized artwork. She also enjoys seeing each unique sleeve as she places them on the coffee cup.

“I enjoy just seeing each one as I put it on the cup because they’re just so cute,” Felton said. “The kindergartners are hysterical and the fourth and fifth graders, they’re really good! Some of them are very artistic.”

Paschal and Felton both were impressed by the community’s response to the holiday coffee cup sleeves and there has been talk of potentially bringing the student sleeve artwork back for other holidays.

“It has a possibility of expanding to other holidays because it’s just a good community project for the kids to do artwork that is going to be out in the public, so they have an authentic audience for their artwork,” Paschal said.

JJ’s Java will continue to hand out the Christmas coffee cup sleeves while supplies last throughout the month of December.