Community Service Spotlight: C-store Retailers, Suppliers Come Together for Hurricane Relief Efforts
NATIONAL REPORT — It has been one month since Hurricane Harvey — the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Wilma in 2005 — made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Texas, and three weeks since Irma tore through the Caribbean before tearing across the Sunshine State.
The convenience channel continues to show that community is at the heart of the industry. In this special Community Service Spotlight, Convenience Store News highlights philanthropic efforts made from across the U.S. following the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Imra:
CandyRific shipped 52,000 candy and novelty pieces for a total of more than 3,300 pounds to Houston for hurricane relief. According to the company, the five pallets of products were sent as a sign of hope and empathy for what people affected by the hurricane must be going through.
“As good citizens, when we see a problem where we can help those in need, we want to do something. This is our way of showing gratitude,” said CandyRific President Rob Auerbach.
Based in Louisville, Ky., CandyRific sells and candy and novelty product combinations utilizing popular licensed brands.
Based in Westborough, Mass., Cumberland Farms donated 10 cents from every fountain and frozen Chill Zone beverage purchased to the American Red Cross from Sept. 18-24 to support communities affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Nearly 600 stores across eight states in the Northeast and Florida participated in the fundraiser. The donations will be split equally to enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help communities recover from the two storms, the c-store retailer stated.
"Our hearts go out to all of the communities and families whose lives have been greatly affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma," said Ari Haseotes, CEO of Cumberland Farms. "We care deeply about the communities we serve and we hope that our donation helps provide some relief to those affected by the historic storms as they face the challenges ahead."
Cumberland Farms kept customers up-to-date on its Florida store closings via its website in the days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Irma. While all 51 Florida locations eventually closed as Irma struck, the company has made great efforts to re-open stores as soon as possible after the storm to serve customers in desperate need of supplies.
"Many of our stores were up and running Monday, with 100 percent open by Thursday," Haseotes commented. "We knew there would be a critical need for food, fuel and other basic supplies after the storm, and we had a great sense of urgency to re-open our stores to serve our customers. We appreciate the outstanding communication from Governor Rick Scott, which helped all of us throughout this crisis."
Twice in two weeks, Greensboro, N.C.-based ITG Brands and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based premium cigar division, Tabacalera USA, donated $50,000 through their affiliated foundation to the American Red Cross for hurricane assistance to those affected by Irma.
“We were touched by the devastation, loss of life and disruption in Houston and many other Texas locations with Hurricane Harvey,” said ITG Brands CEO David Taylor. “This time, Hurricane Irma hit closer to home.”
Tabacalera USA’s divisions include Altadis U.S.A., Casa de Montecristo (with cigar lounges in Florida), and JR Cigar.
“We know that the American Red Cross is working around the clock helping those in need, and we are pleased to provide financial support,” said Javier Estades, head of premium cigar operations in the U.S. "Fortunately, our cigar manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were not severely impacted. We have seen the damage close up. Our offices here in Fort Lauderdale and our distribution center in Tampa [Fla.] were forced to close for several days. Fortunately all of our employees are accounted for, though many have been affected personally by Hurricane Irma.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico on Sept. 19, the PepsiCo Foundation mobilized quickly to provide support to communities in need.
So far, the PepsiCo Foundation has:
- Provided a $1 million-grant to Feeding America for assistance in Florida and the Southeast;
- Given a $250,000-grant to the American Red Cross and its partner national societies for aid recovery in the Caribbean;
- Given a $250,000-donation for relief work in Mexico; and
- Provided $250,000 to source, packaged and distribute meals in the Miami, Fla., area through its long-established Food for Good program, a purpose-driven business initiative that tackles child hunger.
These donations build on a $1 million-grant by the PepsiCo Foundation to the American Red Cross immediately after Hurricane Harvey, and a $1.75 million-donation to provide 1 million meals in the Houston area through Food for Good.
In addition to financial support, the company has donated more than 107,500 cases of Aquafina purified drinking water, Propel water, Gatorade and Tropicana.
"The destruction we have seen from natural disasters in the last few weeks is heartbreaking and corporations like PepsiCo need to do our part to help communities recover and rebuild," said Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. "By coming together with strong partners like Feeding America and the Red Cross, we are providing critical support to the communities we serve in a moment of need."
PepsiCo Mexico and its bottler partner Gepp have donated 31 tons of products from its food portfolio and more than 12,000 liters of water to communities affected by the earthquake. Together with its bottler partner Cervecería Nacional Dominicana, the company is providing 300,000 liters of water to the Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Tortola and St. Maarten.
PepsiCo is based in Purchase, N.Y.
Pilot Flying J
Travel center operator Pilot Flying J is part of a partnership with TEGNA Inc., The Salvation Army, United Van Lines and Mayflower to collect, transport, store and distribute supplies to those individuals and families affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
From Sept. 15-30, 13 TEGNA stations across the U.S. have organized local supply collection events. Tractor-trailers provided by UniGroup, owner of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit, will pick up donated supplies at these events and depart for Houston and Florida, where they will be distributed to affected areas. Pilot Flying J donated fuel for the trucks, while the Salvation Army was on the front lines to distribute essentials needed immediately.
“Fueling these trucks’ journeys to deliver supplies to those in need is a privilege,” said Will Haslam, director of giving back for Pilot Flying J. “We have travel centers throughout Texas and Florida, and many of our guests’ and team members’ hometowns are among the cities impacted. We are honored to help by partnering with The Salvation Army, UniGroup and TEGNA.”
Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J operates more than 650 retail locations in North America.
Wayne Fueling Systems
Austin, Texas-based Wayne Fueling Systems launched initiatives to aid service station owners and operators in Hurricane Harvey-affected areas of Texas and Louisiana.
Starting Sept. 5, the company deployed staff to Houston with Wayne parts to assist in service efforts of the local Wayne Authorized Service Organizations. Its plan is to accelerate delivery of parts to those stations in need, without having to wait for commercial shipping and delivery services, which were back-logged because of the storm.
According to the company, Wayne staff members will remain in the Houston area for the foreseeable future and be on-call to deliver necessary parts and support where and when needed.
Wayne also implemented the “Texans Helping Texans,” a new dispenser replacement program to assist stations with dispensers damaged beyond repair by Hurricane Harvey. Wayne guaranteed a two-week delivery along with special pricing and low financing options for this program.
“As a company headquartered in Texas, we feel a special responsibility to do as much as we can to assist in the Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts,” said David Crouse, Dover Fueling Solutions president. “This storm has had a huge impact on our community, our partners and our customers. These initiatives aim to expedite the recovery of infrastructure in affected areas so citizens can regain a sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. Wayne Fueling Systems is committed to helping our Texas neighbors in need during this difficult time.”
Wayne Fueling Systems is part of Dover Fueling Solutions.