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.
Here are the latest company spotlights:
Casey's General Stores Inc.
Casey's launched the Cash for Classrooms grant program, which will support projects and initiatives taking place at accredited K-12 public and private schools in communities where the retailer operates.
Grants awarded will range from $1,000 to $50,000 and can be used for physical improvements, material needs, teacher support and community engagement initiatives, including projects that assist schools with changes brought on by the pandemic.
"Casey's is committed to being here for our neighbors, guests and students. The Cash for Classrooms grant program is another way we are helping schools prepare children for the future, create a skilled workforce and support families," said Katie Petru, director, community for Casey's. "If you are a teacher, administrator, part of a PTA or PTO, or know someone who is, we encourage you to apply for a Cash for Classrooms grant."
The deadline to submit a grant application is Dec. 16, and grants will be awarded in March 2021. More information and the grant submission process can be found here.
Additionally, during October and November, Casey's will match its guest donations to the local school of their choice in Casey's Rewards.
Casey's operates more than 2,200 c-stores in 16 states.
CEFCO Convenience Stores
CEFCO hosted its annual Hackers-R-Us Charity Golf Tournament benefiting The Fikes Foundation. This year's event raised more than $250,000, which will go toward giving back to the communities where The Fikes Cos. serve, and also provide scholarships and grants to various charitable organizations.
Events like this help The Fikes Foundation donate to organizations like the McLane Children's Medical Center, Eldred's Nursery, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Children's Miracle Network and the American Heart Association.
"We are proud to host this tournament and we are grateful for all who came out to support The Fikes Foundation," said Ken Rowland, chief operating officer of CEFCO. "Thank you to our vendors for your continued support and thank you to Cimarron Hills for providing a venue where we can safely get together and raise money for a worthy cause."
The Fikes Cos. include CEFCO Convenience Stores, Group Petroleum Services, CORD Financial Services, Digital Network Solutions, Fikes Fuels, Fikes Wholesale and JF Air.
CITGO Petroleum Corp.
For the second consecutive season, CITGO marketers and store owners, the University of Michigan Athletics (U of M) and Michigan State University Athletics (MSU) are raising funds to benefit local charities in Ann Arbor and Lansing, Mich., including C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the Greater Lansing Food Bank.
More than 30 CITGO station partners enhanced the program by participating in the Rivalry Spirit Pump campaign, which ran from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. As part of the initiative, participating stations committed to designating up to two pumps to be branded with school insignia and to donating either $1,000 to one school's charity (one pump) or $750 to each school's charity (two pumps). To date, $47,000 has been raised.
CITGO is also supporting the Charity Rivalry Deal Claim, a fan-driven initiative taking place at CITGO locations across Michigan from Aug. 5 thru Dec. 31. As part of the campaign, any U of M or MSU fan who claims the school's deal on the Club CITGO app gets a point scored toward their team's charity, with a limit of one selection per day. Fans can also pick their favorite team at designated areas around each university's campus, indicated by pin-drops in the app.
The school's charity with the most points at the end of the promotion will win a $10,000 donation from CITGO, with the runner up's school charity receiving a $5,000 donation.
"We are excited to work with our partners to support these amazing initiatives," said Kevin Kinney, general manager of brand equity at CITGO, "Our company remains committed to fueling this historic rivalry while also fueling good in our communities."
Enmarket's Enrich Life Campaigns, which involves a variety of projects ranging from sponsoring the Savannah Golf Championship to fundraisers in the chain's 128 stores to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), raised more than $320,000 for local charities in September.
The Enmarket Charity Classic raised $150,000, which was divided among three local charities: $65,000 to the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire, which serves families of fallen first responders; $65,000 to Make-a-Wish Georgia, which grants wishes of seriously ill children; and $20,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank.
While the golf-related fundraisers were being held, Enmarket was also at the midpoint of its LLS fundraiser, where each store partners with its customers to raise money for the LLS Light the Night Campaign. Throughout the month-long event, Enmarket stores sell Light the Night paper icons for a dollar apiece to support the non-profit’s mission to support research and help patients and their families who are affected by blood-related cancers. This year, the campaign has brought in $170,000 for the charity, which fights blood and blood-related cancers.
This is the eighth consecutive year that the entire chain has participated in the Light the Night campaign, raising more than $800,000 during that time.
"These diverse projects reflect the spirit of our mission statement, to enrich life," said Brett Giesick, president of Enmarket. "Our involvement with the Savannah Golf Championship and the next generation of PGA Tour stars demonstrates our interest in healthy lifestyles, as reflected in the many athletic events we are involved in, from the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run to the Savannah Hockey Classic. As far as Light the Night, well, the stores love to compete for bragging rights each year over which one — with its customers' help — raised the most money for this good cause. That friendly competition reflects our family-like spirit."
The Hershey Co.
The Hershey Co. was recognized as one of America's Most JUST Companies by Forbes and JUST Capital for the second consecutive year. The list recognizes U.S. companies that are leading on issues such as investing in employees, supporting communities and reducing impact to the environment. Hershey joined the Just 100 ranking last year at No. 86 and rose 52 spots this year.
"We are proud to be recognized for our long-standing values of integrity and making a difference in our environment, workplace and communities," said The Hershey Co. CEO Michele Buck. "Our deep-rooted purpose of making more moments of goodness influences how we work each and every day."
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
Love's and its customers raised more than $2.45 million through its annual store campaign to raise funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
While the official campaign took place from Aug. 31 to Oct. 3, the promotion began early this year when Love's asked customers to Round Up the Change beginning July 14. More than $820,000 was raised through Round Up the Change efforts. Beginning Aug. 31, customers could continue Rounding Up the Change, or they could donate any amount at a register. Customers also donated through safely held raffles.
"We are so thankful to our employees and customers who found ways to donate safely and creatively this year," said Jenny Love Meyer, executive vice president and chief culture officer for Love's. "This has been an extraordinary year and our team members and customers have proved that despite COVID, their support of sick and injured children and CMN Hospitals is unwavering."
Of the 170 CMN Hospitals throughout North America, 111 benefit from Love's annual campaign.
Additionally, coinciding with the Employer Laptop Challenge from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Love's is donating 40 laptops to Crooked Oak High School in Oklahoma City as school adapt to the needs of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Nothing has a bigger return on investment for a child than a good education," said Jenny Love Meyer, executive vice president and chief culture officer of Love's. "We're thrilled to help the community with these computer donations. No student or school should be punished because of financial burdens associated with COVID-19."
Love's is looking into the possibility of donating additional computers in 2021.
Savannah, Ga.-based Parker's recently donated $27,000 to the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System as part of the company's Fueling the Community program, which donates 1 cent of every gallon of gas sold on the first Wednesday of each month to local schools. The donation is part of nearly $150,000 the company is donating to schools in Georgia and South Carolina this fall.
"At Parker's, giving back is truly part of our DNA, and we believe there is no better way to give back than to support education," said Parker's founder and CEO Greg Parker. "We're incredibly proud to be headquartered right here in Savannah and are deeply honored to support our city's future leaders with this donation."
Launched in 2011 with a mission to give back to every community where Parker's does business, the Parker's Fueling the Community charitable initiative distributes more than $200,000 annually to public and private schools throughout Georgia and South Carolina. To date, Parker's has donated more than $1 million to area schools through the program.
Additionally, the retailer's 8th Annual Parker's Fueling the Community Golf Tournament recently raised a record $137,000 to support education and healthcare in coastal Georgia and South Carolina. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit local communities where Parker’s operates stores.
"We appreciate all the support from the sponsors and the players, year after year," said Parker's Chief Operating Officer Brandon Hofmann, who organizes the annual event. "This is a tournament that nobody wants to miss. It's a great experience for a great cause."
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, PepsiCo introduced a three-pronged effort to lift up Hispanic Americans over five years, leveraging its scale and reach to catalyze position change for the company's three pillars:
For People, that means a focus on increasing Hispanic middle management representation at PepsiCo. For Business, that means building a network of resilient Hispanic-owned companies. For Communities, that means providing access to higher education to unlock opportunity for Hispanics across America.
To achieve these goals, PepsiCo is investing more than $170 million to its commitments over the next five years. The investment is in addition to its 2020 target to spend $275 million with Hispanic suppliers.
Pilot Co. kicked off its donation campaign with the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (SCF), a professional driver charity that helps over-the-road and regional semi-truck drivers and their families when an illness or injury causes them to be out of work. The SCF also works to provide programs that will benefit professional drivers and the trucking industry.
While supplies last, all U.S.-owned and -operated Pilot Flying J Travel Centers and participating One9 Fuel Network stores will be selling ribbons for $1 each in support of the organization. All proceeds will go toward the fund.
According to Pilot, each ribbon is comprised of the American flag colors of red, white and blue to represent a specific meaning in the industry:
- Red: the fact that truckers are the lifeblood/heartbeat of America
- White: the faith and hope their families at home have that they will get the job done safely and return home
- Blue: stability and dependability of our highway heroes
Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot Co. operates more than 750 retail locations in 44 states.
Pennsylvania-based Rutter's donated $25,000 to support the Junior Achievement of South Central PA to benefit their local education program, JA BizTown, which the c-store retailer helped establish in 2007. Since then, Rutter's has donated more than $350,000 to the program.
Rutter's donation to support JA BizTown will help continue the popular program, which allows fifth and sixth grade students to operate a bank, manage a restaurant, write checks and vote for the mayor. The program helps students connect the dots between what they learn in school and the real world, the company stated.
"We're thankful to be in a position where we can help children in our communities during this difficult time," said Scott Hartman, Rutter's President and CEO. "Our family is always proud to support children’s programs and initiatives, and we're excited to continue our partnership with JA Biztown to teach local children strong business skills."
Talking Rain Beverage Co.
Talking Rain Beverage Co.'s Sparkling Ice brand launched its 2020 Sparkling Ice Holiday Giving and Sharing program, giving consumers the opportunity to give back to four charities when purchasing any two 12-packs of Sparkling Ice.
With every qualifying purchase, consumers will be prompted to register and upload their receipts to the Sparkling Ice Rewards site. Then, they can choose one of the four pre-selected charity partners listed, which Sparkling Ice will then donate $1 to, on behalf of each reward member.
"Year-round, our team is committed to giving back to our communities and spreading a message of positivity and togetherness," said Nina Morrison, vice president of public relations at Talking Rain. "During this holiday season, we hope to inspire consumers to shop with a purpose by offering a chance to give back through our Sparkling Ice Rewards program. These four incredible charity organizations aim to benefit the lives of children and adults across the country and we are thrilled to partner with them in their missions to give back."
The beverage brand set a goal of donating $25,000 per charity through the Giving and Sharing program this holiday season. Now through Dec. 15, consumers will be encouraged to participate in the donation initiative by selecting one of the following four charities: JDRF (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), National CARES Mentoring Movement, Together We Rise and A Small Act of Kindness.
VP Racing Fuels Inc.
VP Racing Fuels is continuing its annual Breast Cancer Awareness charitable initiatives with the sale of the special-edition Pink VP Racing Motorsports Container. With every purchase, VP Racing Fuels will make a donation to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Additionally, the company has again partnered with Keystone Automotive Operations. Throughout October, Keystone will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen of Greater Philadelphia organization from the sale of every Special PINK VP Racing Container sold.
"Breast cancer impacts just about all of us in one way or another," said Alan Cerwick, president of VP Racing Fuels. "Every October for the past ten years, we have worked to make more people aware and increase donations to two very worthy charitable causes fighting this disease."