Community Service Spotlight: Alta Convenience, AAFES & Nittany MinitMart

Sheetz Inc., Stewart's Shops and Weigel's also gave back to their communities.
Amanda Koprowski
Associate Editor
Koprowski Headshot

NATIONAL REPORT — Giving back through community service efforts and charitable donations is a positive force that keeps many retailers and suppliers of this industry moving ahead. On a regular basis, Convenience Store News highlights these philanthropic efforts in this special section.

[Read more: Community Service Spotlight: CITGO, Hanley Investment Group & Love's Travel Stops]

Here are the latest company spotlights:

Little girl with a wish for the make-a-wish foundation

Alta Convenience

Over the last year, Alta Convenience alongside its sister company Petro-Mart ran a successful fundraising campaign for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

Stores located across Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming collectively raised more than $300,000 for the Make-A-Wish Star Campaign, with the funds raised in each state directly benefiting their respective chapters.

Parent company CF Altitude views initiatives such as these as part of its ongoing focus to engage with and support the local communities its serves.

The Chapmans with their paid layaway cart at the AAFES

Army & Air Force Exchange Service

For the second consecutive year, Tinker Air Force Base Exchange shoppers enjoyed a special holiday surprise, having each of their layaway balances paid in full by nonprofit organization Soldier's Wish. The balances totaled nearly $4,000 in holiday purchases.

All Tinker Exchange shoppers who had layaway balances were invited to the main food court on Dec. 20 under the guise of a surprise sweepstakes win. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Tinker Exchange General Manager Charles Eaves, along with representatives from the air base and Soldier's Wish. Each shopper was then presented with a gift-wrapped shopping cart assembled by the store team that included their layaway merchandise inside.

[Read more: Army & Air Force Exchange Service to Grow Autonomous Store Network]

"We were thrilled once again to get the chance to set up this event for our shoppers this year," Eaves said. "This is a perfect opportunity to help make a busy and stressful holiday season a little easier for the Tinker community."

Nittany MinitMart

Central Pennsylvania-based Nittany MinitMart recently raised more than $18,000 for area animal shelters with the help of its customers. Shoppers were encouraged to round up their orders to the nearest dollar at checkout during the campaign.

"It was amazing to see how passionate our customers and employees are about this cause," said Nickie Masullo, director of operations at Nittany. "Our Galeton store raised over $2,100 just in that location. Our managers and staff were competing to see which location could raise the most money."

The funds will be distributed to shelters near each of the 28 Nittany MinitMart locations, ensuring that the impact is felt across the chain's operating area, the company said. Donations will help support ongoing efforts to provide care, shelter and medical attention to animals in need.

Masullo and her team are currently planning for Nittany MinitMart's snnual Fireman's Fundraiser, held in the spring. Last year's "Fuel the Cause" initiative raised almost $150,000 for area volunteer fire companies.

Sheetz for the Kidz logo

Sheetz Inc.

Sheetz Inc.'s annual campaign for Sheetz for the Kidz, an employee-driven charity supporting underprivileged children, raised more than $1.7 million in 2023, including a record-breaking $807,328 in December.

During the months of July and December, Sheetz customers can make a donation at check-out through donation boxes or by adding donations to their purchase at the point of sale. These funds support local kids in need with clothes, toys and more through the Sheetz For the Kidz Holiday Program in partnership with The Salvation Army, with each store supporting 16 children from their local communities.

The organization has also partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Feeding America to support children dealing with serious health issues or food insecurity.

"Each and every year, we are blown away by our customers who always exceed our expectations. Our customers continue to bring hope and joy to thousands of children across our footprint during the holiday season," said Brittany Funcheon, Sheetz For the Kidz executive director.

Created in 1992, Sheetz for the Kidz has affected the lives of more than 170,000 children living within the company's footprint to date.

Stewarts Shops Holiday Match Banner

Stewart's Shops

The Stewart's Shops 2023 Holiday Match program raised more than $2 million for local children's charities in December.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, the c-store chain raised $1 million and Stewart's Shops matched the count, bringing the total to $2 million. Hundreds of nonprofit children's organizations in New York and Vermont will benefit from the distributed funds over the next few months.

"Even during uncertain economic times, our customers continue to amaze me with their generosity," said Chad Kiesow, Stewart's Shops chief operating officer. "Stewart's is a sharing company and clearly so are our loyal customers."

Including this year's tally, the Holiday Match program has raised more than $38 million since its inception in 1986. Because Stewart's does not charge any administrative fees, 100% of those funds are redistributed into the community, the company stated.

[Read more: Stewart's Shops Marks First Anniversary of Online Store]

Last year, the program benefitted 1,939 local nonprofit children's organizations, and more than 600 organizations have already applied for Holiday Match for this year. All funds will be distributed by the end of March.

Santa sitting with a boy at Weigels Family Christmas

Weigel's Stores Inc.

Weigel's Stores' Family Christmas, in collaboration with the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club of East Tennessee, returned in 2023, providing an extra special day of festivities for approximately 250 underprivileged children in the area. 

As part of the festivities, children ages five to eight years old were selected to receive $200 each for a Christmas shopping spree at Target.

"This event has been a beacon of warmth and meaning since we started it over 25 years ago," said Kurt Weigel, training and recruiting director at Weigel's. "Our volunteers, often entire families, come together to create magic for our community. We're especially thrilled to witness the growth of this heartwarming tradition."

Before the shopping extravaganza, volunteers treated the children to a breakfast at the Knoxville Expo Center. Many volunteers also stayed back to prepare lunch for the children upon their return, while others awaited at Target to assist the children with their Christmas shopping.

Since its inception in 1998, the Weigel Family Christmas has touched the lives of more than 4,800 children.

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