Community Service Spotlight: C-store Retailers & Suppliers Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

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Community Service Spotlight: C-store Retailers & Suppliers Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

By Danielle Romano - 04/01/2020

NATIONAL REPORT — As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to disrupt every area of modern-day life, convenience store retailers and suppliers know that giving back through community service efforts and charitable donations is a positive force that will keep the channel moving forward.

In this special edition of Community Service Spotlight, Convenience Store News highlights these philanthropic efforts. Here are the latest company spotlights:

Altria Group Inc.

Altria committed $1 million to support immediate local coronavirus relief efforts in its headquarters community of Richmond, Va., and its other manufacturing and grower communities.

As part of this initial investment, Altria provided $500,000 to the Community Foundation of Greater Richmond's COVID-19 Response Fund, which will support organizations addressing the physical and emotional needs of the Central Virginia community's most vulnerable residents.

Additionally, the company will work with leaders in its manufacturing communities, including Nashville, Tenn., and others, to respond to priority community needs and investments as they emerge. The response will also include a distribution to the American Red Cross.

"This is an unprecedented time, and it's critical that businesses step up to meet the challenges in the communities where we live and work," said Billy Gifford, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Altria.

CITGO Petroleum Corp.

In partnership with the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO), CITGO donated150 Kindle tablets to the Houston and Alief Independent School Districts to help support low-income students' e-learning needs during the COVID-19 school closures and subsequent move to remote learning platforms. 

"We are very pleased to support Houston-area students as they remain safe at home while continuing their academic curriculum online under this unprecedented challenge to public health and education," said CITGO President and CEO Carlos Jordá. 

Android-based tablets were distributed on March 19 to students selected by the corresponding ISD based on socioeconomic data, just in time for the transitional remote learning period that started on March 23. 

CITGO has had a six-year partnership with the HCSO with the Kindling Young Minds program, an initiative that awards Kindle Fire tablets to Houston-area students that achieved perfect or much-improved attendance records. To date, CITGO has helped distribute more than 600 Kindles through the Kindling Young Minds program.

DANONE NORTH AMERICA

Danone North America made a $1.5 million donation to food banks and rescue organizations. The monies will include support for organizations in two states where the company has headquarters offices and large employee populations: New York-based City Harvest and Feeding Westchester, and Colorado-based Community Food Share and We Don't Waste.

E. & J. Gallo

E. & J. Gallo's Barefoot wine is making an initial $100,000 donation to Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which supports food and beverage employees and their families faced with life-altering circumstances.

"We are proud to help CORE extend relief to restaurant employees and their children," said Anna Bell, vice president of marketing at Barefoot. "We look forward to the time when we can all return to the many restaurants that have played such an enjoyable role in our daily lives. In the meantime, Barefoot is committed to supporting CORE and their impactful initiatives."

In addition, Gallo will match U.S.-based employee contributions one-to-one through its employee match program.

Gasland Petroleum

New York-based Gasland Petroleum made a much-needed contribution to Vassar Brothers Medical Center, located in the city of Poughkeepsie. The donation will help the hospital meet a crucial need to provide its doctors, nurses and staff with the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to battle the COVID-19 crisis.

"We are committed to serving our community throughout the year and especially during these very challenged times. My sons and I want to remind everyone that we are all in this together, and we urge members of the community, businesses and individuals alike to take action at this time," said Majed "Mitch" Nesheiwat, founder and CEO of Gasland Petroleum. "For those who are able, please consider making donations to hospitals, food pantries, shelters, the American Red Cross, or even purchasing gift cards from local retailers or restaurants to provide financial support during mandated closures."

GoPuff

Digital convenience retailer goPuff is committing $1 million in orders of food and daily essentials to hospital and health care professionals in across the country through the Health Care Support Initiative.

GoPuff is launching the initiative with Northwestern Medical Center. Here's how the program works:

  • Order credits are valued at $25 each (with delivery fees waived) and will be available to health care workers at Level I trauma center partners across the country.
  • The credits are valid for use across goPuff's inventory of more than 2,500 daily necessities.
  • Orders can be completed through goPuff's non-contact delivery model, which the company recently enhanced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, goPuff was founded in 2013 and currently operates in more than 150 U.S. locations, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

ITG Brands

Greensboro, N.C.-based ITG Brands is donating $50,000 to the community after United Way of Greater Greensboro’s request for members of the community to assist its humanitarian efforts in the face of this unprecedented crisis.

"We share United Way of Greater Greensboro' concerns — and, indeed, a concern shared around the world — regarding COVID-19," said Oliver Kutz, chairman and CEO of ITG Brands. "Our contribution to the United Way of Greater Greensboro's virus relief fund is one small way we can help our community as we focus on the safety of our employees, customers and the broader community. Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors here in our own community and everywhere around the world who have been impacted by this pandemic."

Kraft Heinz Co.

Kraft Heinz, which is co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is committed to donating $12 globally. In the United States, the donation breakdown is: $6.6 million to help American consumers in need through community and food bank partnerships; $1.9 million in cash to Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the United States; and $4.7 million in products that will be provided to Feeding America member food banks.

The $12 million contribution builds upon previous Coronavirus-related donations Kraft Heinz has made in China, one of the countries most impacted by the pandemic and where the company has both factories and offices. The company's global impact includes:

  • During China's outbreak earlier this year, Kraft Heinz partnered with Babytree, one of the largest parenting websites in China, to donate more than 4,000 boxes of Heinz infant food to families in need through the Shanghai Fosun Foundation. The company's products were delivered to 25 hospitals in five Chinese provinces most severely affected by the outbreak.
  • In the U.K., Kraft Heinz is partnering with Magic Breakfast, a charity that provides healthy school breakfasts to hungry and malnourished children in disadvantaged areas of the U.K., to secure 12 million free breakfasts for school children who need them the most.
  • In Canada, the company will be making a series of donations to Food Banks Canada, which serves 650 food banks, in the coming weeks, starting with more than 100,000 boxes of KD/Kraft Dinner, the country’s most popular macaroni and cheese brand.

"We at Kraft Heinz have an enormously important role to play in making sure people have the food and nourishment they need — and that's especially critical at this challenging moment," said Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio. "This donation is an immediate and impactful way we can help our neighbors in need around the world and help fill this critical gap. We are very pleased to make these donations on behalf of our worldwide employees, who are working especially hard during this time to provide consumers and their families with products they know and trust. We are all in this together and are reminded that we’re only as strong as our most vulnerable."

OnCue

OnCue is donating more than $30,000 of non-perishable food and personal care products to several local food banks, pantries and soup kitchens in response to increased community needs surrounding COVID-19.

"One of OnCue's core values is being a good neighbor in the communities where we live and work," said Scott Minton, director of business development, OnCue. "It was extremely gratifying to visit every OnCue, collecting items to help feed our neighbors, especially during a time when many families may be looking for additional help due to community health concerns."

Oklahoma-based OnCue operates more than 65 locations.

Pilot Co.

Pilot Co. CEO Jimmy Haslam and his wife Dee pledged $1.5 million to COVID-19 relief funds across the state of Tennessee. Through the Haslam 3 Foundation, the Haslams are contributing $1 million to the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and $500,000 to the Columbus Foundation's Emergency Response Fund.

"We are humbled by the tremendous work of people around the world in their efforts to help those impacted by COVID-19 and we wanted to try to positively impact those affected in our own communities of Cleveland and Columbus," the Haslams said in a statement. "We are grateful for the individuals who are putting others before themselves and for the sacrifices they are making."

Reed's

Reed's, known for its Ginger Beer, converted its consumer sampling truck into a delivery truck. Over the next few weeks, "The Green Machine" will be visiting local hospitals, fire stations and medical centers in the Los Angeles, Ocean City and San Diego, Calif., county areas to donate the extra product the company was planning on bringing to Natural Products Expo West, which was cancelled amid the pandemic. 

Tabacalera USA

Tabacalera USA and its business units Altadis U.S.A., JR Cigar and Casa de Montecristo are donating $50,000 to support those impacted by the coronavirus in Broward County, Fla.

"We share United Way of Broward County's concerns — and, indeed, a concern shared around the world — regarding COVID-19," said Javier Estades, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Tabacalera USA. "Our contribution to the United Way of Broward County's virus relief fund is one small way we can help our community as we focus on the safety of our employees, customers and the broader community. We urge everyone who can to join in this effort.

"We also remind our fellow citizens to follow the guidance of local, state and federal officials concerning best practices to prevent the spread of this virus," he added. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors here in our own community and everywhere around the world who have been impacted by this pandemic."

Wawa Inc.

The Wawa Foundation approved Emergency Food Distribution Funding for a total of seven organizations, bringing the total contributions up to nearly $60,000 in the first week of establishing the fund. The first wave included a $30,000 contribution distributed to Philadbundance, Food Bank of Delaware and Feeding South Florida.

The second wave included $28,500 in contributions to:

  • $10,000 issued to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey Inc., with funds benefiting daily assembly and distribution of emergency food boxes, the continuation of regular food distribution, increased meal production in community kitchen for possible school feeding efforts and possible need to hire part-time staff given the loss of volunteers
  • $10,000 approved for the Food Bank of South Jersey Inc., an emergency feeding organization that provides food, direct services and education programming to at-risk seniors, children and families suffering from devastating effects of hunger throughout Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties
  • $7,500 issued to The Food Bank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties Inc. to aid in purchasing approximately 250 "crisis boxes," consisting of both donated and purchased food to distribute to local pantries in need
  • $1,000 given to Mercer Street Friends Center to fill a food shortage gap of distributing food to their network of pantries, soup kitchens, meals on wheels programs, etc. to help individuals and families facing food insecurity

The Wawa Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded by Wawa Inc. to support the company’s charitable giving and philanthropic activities.

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