Community Service Spotlight: FriendShip Stores, Mirabito, Swisher & Weigel's
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
Throughout the month of November, Casey's supported the military in round-up campaigns for two prominent nonprofit organizations, Hope For The Warriors and Children of Fall Patriots, which provide assistance and scholarships for veterans and their families.
Additionally, $1 was donated for every online or in-app purchase of a large pizza and 2-liter Pepsi brand drink, up to $50,000 total.
"Every day, Casey's is committed to supporting our guests, and we know our guests are just as committed to serving the men and women who have served this great country," said Darren Rebelez, CEO of Casey's General Stores, and a veteran of the United States Army. "As a veteran myself, I am proud to be a part of Casey's support of military heroes and their families, and these two remarkable organizations."
As an added salute to all service members past and present, Casey's provided free coffee on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, across its 2,200-plus locations.
EG America raised $478,000 in its most recent fundraising campaign for Disabled American Veterans (DAV), an organization that helps ill and injured veterans, their families and survivors. The amount raised was almost double the original campaign goal.
For the second year in a row, EG America encouraged its customers to donate to DAV over the summer as a way to say thank you to the men and women who served. EG America stores that participated in the campaign were Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf 'N Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb and Turkey Hill.
"We want to thank our guests for their generous donations to support the needs of our veterans," said EG America President George Fournier. "We are honored to be able to give back to those who have bravely served our country through our partnership with DAV."
In addition, EG America recently sponsored DAV's Field of Flags campaign, which raised about another $250,000 after the company matched those contributions.
FriendShip, the retail division of Beck Suppliers, raised and donated a record $500,000 this year.
"We are proud to be an Ohio-based company and realized that the challenges our communities are facing during this pandemic were daunting. We wanted to do our part to support them as best we could," said Brian Beck, senior vice president of FriendShip Stores, and co-owner of Beck Suppliers. "Our success over the years has been due in large part to our strong ties to our communities, children and education. We are grateful that we were able to help so much during such a trying year."
One of FriendShip's largest beneficiaries each year is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). More than 84 cents of every dollar donated to JDRF goes directly to research.
Other major recipients of funding from FriendShip include Make-A-Wish Foundation, Port Clinton Athletic Boosters, Cancer Services of Erie County, Lorain County Boys and Girls Club and the Humane Society of Sandusky County.
Gate Petroleum Co.
The Gate Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Gate Petroleum Co., donated $80,000 to the American Cancer Society (ACS) to support breast cancer research and awareness.
Funds were raised in Gate stores across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina as part of the company's pink ribbon paper icon campaign. From Oct. 1-21, customers had the opportunity to donate $1 and sign their name on a pink ribbon paper icon that was displayed in the Gate store.
"2020 marks our 10th year of supporting the fight against breast cancer with the pink ribbon campaign in Gate stores," said Kathy Brady, executive director of the Gate Foundation. "We are so grateful to our customers for their generosity, and to our employees for the enthusiasm supporting this campaign."
In addition to the displays of pink ribbons in Gate stores, employees wore pink ACS t-shirts to promote the fundraising efforts. Stores also featured signage and ACS mission information to educate customers.
The General Mills Foundation announced an additional $4 million of philanthropic funding for nonprofit organizations working to alleviate growing food insecurity worldwide. The supplemental funding is in addition to the company's $10 million in grants and food donations since March to help food banks, food pantries and other anti-hunger organizations meet the elevated community needs driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the organizations receiving added support from the General Mills Foundation through the latest grant package are the Global FoodBanking Network, the European Food Banks Federation, Second Harvest Heartland, the Global Child Nutrition Foundation and Feeding America.
The funding includes $2 million dedicated to expanding the capabilities of Feeding America's MealConnect platform, a mobile app that makes it easy for grocery stores, restaurants, farmers and food businesses to donate their good excess food to local charities. The grant will expand Feeding America's ability to connect more people and households with food amid the pandemic, while enabling more food donors to regularly and efficiently donate their surplus food to charities.
"We know food banks and other hunger-fighting organizations are creatively working to address surging demand for assistance amid a reduced food supply, due to the pandemic," said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer for General Mills. "These additional grants from the General Mills Foundation will support those extraordinary efforts to nourish people facing hunger, while also helping to ensure that the world's good surplus food does not go to waste. We also encourage people to do what they can to support food banks in their own communities."
The company's latest COVID-19 response augments more than $50 million in cash giving by General Mills and its Foundation in fiscal 2020, along with more than $40 million worth of food product donations provided by General Mills to nonprofit food banks.
During the month of December, the sale of tater tots at all GetGo Café+Market locations will raise money for the U.S. Marine Corps annual Toys for Tots holiday campaign. As part of the GetGo Tots for Toys for Tots campaign, a portion of the proceeds from any order of tots will go to Marine Toys for Tots, for a total up to $10,000.
This is the first year for GetGo's Tots campaign.
"Time after time, we've been impressed with the generosity of our guests. We know the holidays will be more challenging for some families this year and we're proud to partner with our neighbors and the Marine Corps to provide toys and gifts to the children in our communities. Getting to enjoy GetGo's incredible tots all month long is just a bonus," said GetGo Chief of Staff Rug Phatak.
Love's Travel Stops
Love's contributed a record $1.7 million for the United Way of Central Oklahoma through its annual campaign. Since 1999, Love's has donated more than $7.5 million to the organization.
"The United Way campaign is one of our favorite campaigns each year because we are able to give back to our hometown," said Shane Wharton, president of Love's. "This year, the organization needed our help more than ever because of the impact COVID-19 has had on so many people, and our corporate employees stepped up in a big way."
For this year's campaign, money was raised for the United Way of Central Oklahoma by Love's corporate employees who pledged funds and participated in virtual auctions and raffles. Love's also matched employee contributions by 50 percent.
Other components contributing to the total included vendor donations and donations earlier this year to the Urban League of Oklahoma City, among others.
From Nov. 10 through Dec. 28, more than 300 MAPCO stores across the Southeast will ask customers to make a donation to their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital (CMNH). Since 2017, MAPCO has provided $750,000 in life-saving funds to local CMNH through customer donations, vendor support and corporate events.
Mirabito Energy Products and Mirabito Convenience Stores are donating $50,000 to Cure Rare Disease (CRD), a Boston-based nonprofit organization committed to the development of precision medicine therapeutics that combat select rare diseases impacting millions of people nationwide.
"It has been a privilege to partner with CRD over the years and to get to know the Horgan Family. Their commitment to finding cures for each individual and outside-the-box thinking to get there is truly amazing," said Mirabito Energy Products CEO Joe Mirabito. "We believe in their mission and the strategy they are using to make a difference for the millions of people affected by these diseases. We are excited to see what the future holds!"
For 2020, Murphy USA will donate a total of $1.55 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of America through the "Great Futures Fueled Here" cause campaign, extending beyond its goal of $500,000.
The multi-phase cause campaign launched on April 1 and concluded in September. Customers chose to make a monetary contribution of $1, $5 or $10, or round-up their purchases to the nearest dollar amount at checkout.
"We have been amazed by the generosity of our customers and employees who have tripled our original commitment of $500,000 to support Boys & Girls Clubs members," said Andrew Clyde, president and CEO of Murphy USA. "In these trying times, the Boys & Girls Clubs' mission is more important than ever. We have been deeply moved and proud to see the generous spirit that our customers and employees demonstrated throughout this years' campaign."
State College, Pa.-based Nittany Minitmart supported local volunteer fire fighting companies by raising $44, 969.18. The retailer sold firefighter helmet cut-outs for $1 or a fire truck for $10. It also collaborated with vendors to secure additional donations, including DelGrosso, Pepsi, Clif Bar, Gehl's, Herr's, JTM, Hershey, Keebler and Wise.
Additionally, Nittany Energy donated 1 cent from each gallon of fuel purchased, which was matched by Pennsylvania Skill.
"We were pleased to be able to step up and help these organizations that we all depend on in so many ways during this unprecedented time," said John Martin, Nittany MinitMart president.
Stillwater, Okla.-based OnCue recently sold thousands of "Support Oklahoma Schools" fundraiser cups, giving 50 cents from every cup to each store's local school district for a total of over $20,000.
"This year has presented many difficulties for our local schools, students and teachers. We simply hope that the cups remind everyone what an important part public education plays in all of our futures," said Laura Aufleger, president of OnCue. "Thank you to all of our amazing employees and customers who make the Support Oklahoma Schools cups so successful."
The summer cup campaign ran from July to the end of September. It is the third consecutive year OnCue has offered the Support Oklahoma Schools cups, first created in response to the teacher walkout in 2018. The program has amounted to more than $60,000 in donations for local schools.
Additionally, OnCue collected $275,000 during the annual St. Jude Halloween Promotion to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Throughout the month of October, participating locations asked customers to donate $1 or more. Then, patrons received a Halloween-themed pinup displaying a St. Jude patient.
"The work done at St. Jude continues to amaze us and each year our hearts grow bigger for its mission," Aufleger said. "There is nothing more impactful than the moment when a family says thank you for another birthday or holiday with their child. It reminds us that there is more to be done to ensure that no child dies from cancer. Thank you to all our dedicated employees and customers who play a critical role in this effort."
OnCue has raised $2,613,664 for St. Jude throughout their 13-year partnership, making them the largest regional partner for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It also sold its limited-edition co-branded cup benefiting St. Jude for the third year in a row.
Savannah, Ga.-based Parker's donated $5,000 to Charleston County Schools in South Carolina 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 Parker's is donating to schools in Georgia and South Carolina this fall.
"Giving back to the communities we serve is part of our DNA at Parker's, and we think the best way to do that is through education," said Parker's founder and CEO Greg Parker. "Education is truly the tide that lifts all ships. It empowers communities and fosters the next generation of leaders. We're delighted to invest in Charleston County's teachers and students through our Fueling the Community program, especially during these difficult times."
Launched in 2011 with a mission to give back to every community where Parker's Kitchen 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 Kitchen has donated more than $7 million to area schools through the program.
Pennsylvania-based Rutter's donated $75,000 to local charities in the city of York to benefit children and youth in the community. Organizations receiving contributions included:
- DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre — $15,000
- Leg Up Farm — $10,000
- Creative York — $10,000
- York Day Nursery — $10,000
- YMCA of York — $10,000
- The Belmonte Theatre — $10,000
- The York Suburban Education Foundation — $5,000
- Center for Dairy Excellence — $5,000
"Our support of local children's charities is long-running and something our company is always proud to do," said Scott Hartman, Rutter's president and CEO. "During these difficult times, we recognize how important it is to provide these charitable organizations with funding to benefit children’s education in York."
Additionally, Rutter's donated $60,000 to YMCA of Chambersburg, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Blair County, Cedar Foundation of Lebanon County, Northeast PA Manufacturers and Employees Council, Cumberland Valley School of Music and the PA Breast Cancer Coalition.
"During these trying times, all of us at Rutter's recognize that charities and non-profit organizations need our support now, more than ever," said Hartman. "We take pride in supporting charities and programs that benefit children in the communities we serve."
To date in 2020, Rutter's has donated nearly $500,000 to charities primarily focused on helping children in their communities. The company plans to announce several hundred thousand dollars more in donations to local charitable organizations over the next two months.
Recently, Stewart's Shops and the Dake Family provided the Columbia Memorial Health (CMH) Foundation with a grant of $25,000 to help bring new bone scanning technology, a Hologic Horizon DXA System that assesses comprehensive bone health, to their Greene Medical Imaging Center.
The Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based retailer has been a supporter of CMH for 20 years. It has provided the organization with product donations and gift certificates for yearly fundraising events, as well as provide monetary support for larger projects such as patient room renovations and the purchase of 3D Breast Biopsy Technology.
Stewart's Shops and the Dake Family also donates to several organizations in the communities it serves, including Franklin Community Center, Wellspring, Saratoga Care Foundation and Siena College.
Stewart's gives $7.5 million annually to more than 6,000 nonprofit organizations. Five million of it comes from the Dake Family Foundation, so it does not impact its Partners ESOP/Profit Sharing.
In conjunction with the University of North Florida's Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI), Swisher established a new program that supports underrepresented entrepreneurs in pursuing their business goals called The Swisher Startup for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs.
The program reinforces the company's commitment to inclusion and diversity, as well as the CEI's commitment to supporting early-stage companies and entrepreneurs in northeast Florida and the surrounding area.
"Swisher has joined corporate America in addressing racial inequality not just within our own organization, but throughout our community," said John Miller, president of Swisher. "Our partnership with UNF underscores our commitment to civic participation, and our firm belief in encouraging entrepreneurship opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs from all walks of life."
Swisher's financial commitment will help nurture the goal of entrepreneurship among aspiring entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities by providing financial support for facilitators, program materials, marketing, professional services and other resources for UNF's Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
The company's pledge to UNF is part of its ongoing Inclusion, Diversity & Transformation strategy, which partners with multicultural groups, creates opportunities for Black-owned businesses, and works with historically Black Colleges and Universities to create a talent pipeline.
"Our commitment to this exciting entrepreneurship opportunity with our partners at UNF is just one part of our strategy of helping create change within our business and in our community," said Alexandria Deal, Swisher's manager of Diversity, Inclusion and Transformation. "Together with UNF, we are pleased to be able to address and create meaningful and lasting social change."
In anticipation of Veteran's Day on Nov. 11, Weigel's presented a check to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs for $45,404.20. The check was large enough to raise and train two service dogs.
The Smoky Mountain Service Dog program provides, at no charge to veterans in need, specially trained service dogs to aid in assistance and companionship. Dogs are trained for many veteran-related disabilities such as providing navigation and assisting in mobility. The cost to raise and train one service dog is approximately $22,000 before they can be matched to a veteran.
"We are fortunate to have the support of so many customers who have made this donation possible," said Bill Weigel, chairman for Weigel's. "On the heal of Veteran's Day, it gives us such joy to know we can make a difference in the lives of those that so unselfishly sacrificed for all of us."