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10/08/2021

Community Service Spotlight: GPM, Maverik, Stripes & Stacy's

Efforts support children's charities, the elderly, hunger eradication, and more.

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

Casey's is asking guests to round up their purchases to help fund its annual Cash for Classrooms Grant Program, which provides funds for projects and initiatives that benefit K-12 public and nonprofit, private schools.

"Schools are at the heart of each of our communities, like Casey's, and we are honored to be able to support students, teachers and families through the Cash for Classrooms Grant Program. We encourage our guests to join forces with Casey's and Keurig Dr Pepper by rounding up when shopping in our stores or purchasing the CORE combo during this campaign," said Megan Elfers, president of Casey's Charities.

Guests can also donate to this year's campaign with two other ways:

  • Keurig Dr Pepper will donate $1 for every 3 for $5 combo of CORE Hydration water purchased, up to $25,000; and
  • Casey’s will donate $1 for every large pizza purchase completed on Monday, Aug. 30, up to $100,000.

In 2021, Casey's Cash for Classrooms Grant Program awarded $1 million to benefit schools through 99 grants. The funding priorities included physical improvements, material needs, teacher support and community engagement initiatives.

Every dollar raised will go toward this year's Cash for Classrooms Grant Program, which opens its application process on Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. Grant requests may range from $3,000 to $50,000.

GPM Investments LLC

GPM Investments recently sponsored the Mountain Empire Older Citizens' 45th Annual Walkathon for the agency's Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly (MEOC). Together, fas mart, Roadrunner Markets and Scotchman convenience stores raised $116,651.

This marked GPM's 11th year sponsoring the MEOC Walkathon and participating as a gold sponsor for the event.

"We are passionate about working with local organizations to better our community," said GPM Investments Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer Michael Bloom. "We're proud to be a longstanding corporate sponsor of MEOC's annual Walkathon and contribute to a program that is doing so much to care for the elderly in southwestern Virginia."

MEOC has served southwestern Virginia since 1974, providing a range of services aimed at helping older adults live independently in their homes and communities for as long as safely possible. Services include home-delivered and congregate nutrition, in-home support, advocacy, wellness programs, and more. 

"We are so pleased to have GPM as a long-standing corporate sponsor," said Michael Wampler, executive director at Mountain Empire Older Citizens. "Providing support for the Emergency Fuel Fund for over a decade, they perfectly exemplify this year's Walkathon theme 'Strong Community Raising Spirits' and the way our community has always supported those in need."

GPM Investments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ARKO Corp., is based in Richmond, Va., and operates or supplies stores in 33 states and Washington D.C. As the sixth largest c-store chain in the country, GPM has approximately 3,000 locations comprised of approximately 1,400 company-operated stores and 1,650 dealer sites to which it supplies fuel. 

The Hershey Co.

Following the isolation of the past year, and the cancellation of their town's annual end-of-summer celebration in 2020, a high school woodshop class, alongside its woodshop teacher, rallied together to build fire tables and pits to reconnect their community over Hershey's S'mores. 

"The festival leaders were inspired by a Hershey's S'mores commercial, which depicted a neighborhood coming together over a set of fire tables to make S'mores," said Travis Oliver, Crookston High School Industrial Education Teacher. "We thought, what an amazing project for my shop kids to make for the community and what a great way to come back together in a sweet and safe way in 2021." 

With the help of the local fire department, the festival coordinators, local sponsors and businesses, and Hershey — including a full pallet of chocolate — the first-ever community S'mores event was born. 

"We were blown away when we got word of the project these kids built, and we were really inspired by this entire town — from the teacher, the local festival organizers and even the firemen who helped," said Alyssa Smith, Hershey's brand manager. "We wanted to support their hard work and passion, so we sent them all they needed to make the S'mores table the showcase of the Ox Cart Festival."

Love's Travel Stops

Love's kicked off a campaign to support Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals that runs through Sept. 30. To donate, customers can purchase a paper balloon for $1, $5, $10 or $20 or Round Up the Change to the nearest dollar at the register. Additionally, stores will safely hold raffles, fundraisers and sell CMN Hospitals merchandise like teddy bears and golf towels.

"Love's is honored to continue its partnership with CMN Hospitals to help kids who need medical treatment in the communities where our team members work and live across the country," said Jenny Love Meyer, chief culture officer and executive vice president of Love's. "As times continue to be difficult for many people, these funds will ease the burden for caregivers and help kids improve their health."

The travel center operator will show additional support for CMN Hospitals on Sept. 29 for National Coffee Day. Customers can purchase any sized coffee for $1 with all proceeds going to CMN Hospitals. Coffee purchases must be made through the Love's Connect app for the deal.

Love's partnership with CMN Hospitals began in 1999.The operator has raised more than $35 million for the organization since then. Of the 170 CMN Hospitals in the United States, 113 benefit from Love's annual campaign.

Maverik

By rounding up their cash transactions to the nearest dollar, Maverik and its customers raised $255,348 that will be donated to Feeding America. The funds will strengthen Maverik's $180,767 donation to Feeding America in February from its last "Round Up" campaign, and its direct donation in January of $150,000, totaling $586,115 donated in 2021.

The more than $225,000 donation coincides with September's Hunger Action Month and aligns with Hunger Action Day on Sept. 17, where collective efforts across the county are focused for greater hunger-relief impact.

"We activated a second Round Up campaign this year to help support millions of our neighbors still struggling with hunger due to the pandemic," said Chuck Maggelet, president and chief adventure guide of Maverik. "We're overwhelmed and thankful to our customers for sparing their change to help fight this battle together."

Ninety percent of customer donations that were raised locally will stay local, with each region's collections going to serve food banks that assist people in that same region. Maverik's donation will be distributed to 15 Feeding America member food banks across 11 western states where the retailer operates. The remaining donation will support Feeding America's national strategies to help fight hunger in America.

Six of the food banks receiving the Round Up donation also received a direct donation of $22,500 each from Maverik in January. They included:

  • Roadrunner Food Bank of Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Idaho Food Bank of Meridian, Idaho
  • Three Square Food Bank of Las Vegas
  • Food Bank of Northern Nevada of Sparks, Nev.
  • Second Harvest Inland Northwest of Spokane, Wash.
  • Food Bank of the Rockies, serving people throughout Colorado and Wyoming

The remaining $15,000 from Maverik's $150,000 donation in January went to support Feeding America's COVID-19 Relief Fund, used to provide food and funds to local food banks needing it most across the U.S.

Maverik operates more than 370 locations across 11 western states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. 

Stacy's Pita Chips

Stacy's Pita Chips is continuing its commitment to helping female founders by partnering with Oscar-winning actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and the media company she founded, Hello Sunshine, to spotlight the 10 inspiring winners of the 2021 Stacy's Rise Project. New this year, Stacy's is also amplifying founders by launching FoundedByHer.org, an online business directory featuring female founders from across the United States.

As a female-founded brand that grew from a sandwich cart to nationwide distribution, Stacy's is building upon its legacy of helping women rise through the Stacy's Rise Project, grant and mentorship program dedicated to helping women grow their businesses. Earlier this year, Stacy's, with longtime partner HelloAlice, received an overwhelming amount of interest in the Rise Project from founders across the nation with an almost 300 percent increase in applications from years prior.

The 10 winners will each receive a $10,000 grant, mentoring from Frito-Lay and PepsiCo leadership, and the opportunity to participate in a speaker series featuring Frito-Lay leadership and notable founders. To welcome and amplify the 2021finalists as well as extend visibility to founders in 2022, the brand is kicking off a partnership with actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and the media company she founded, Hello Sunshine.

"As we continue to champion the Stacy's Rise Project and founders across the U.S., we're overjoyed to partner with Hello Sunshine and Reese Witherspoon, whose dedication to empowering female entrepreneurs is inspirational and perfectly aligned with Stacy's legacy of supporting these women," said Ciara Dilley, Frito-Lay vice president of marketing. "This is just the beginning of Stacy's work with Hello Sunshine and Reese to spotlight remarkable founders and continue to build up a community of empowered and supported women."

Stripes Convenience Stores

Stripes kicked off its seventh annual MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital in-store fundraising campaign across 540 stores in Texas and Louisiana to benefit the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The campaign runs Sept. 1-30 as part of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.

"We've dedicated September as Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month in our stores to raise funds for children with cancer in our local communities. Since 2014, we have collaborated with MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital to help make a difference in pediatric cancer patients' lives through emerging treatments," said 7-Eleven Inc. Zone Vice President Thelma Delgado. "With the help of our passionate team members and generous customers, we can continue to support pediatric cancer research and fund camps and educational programs in the hospital." 

Stripes customers can donate by purchasing a $1 MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital paper pin-up while checking out at participating stores. To show appreciation for donations, participating customers will receive a coupon for $1 off two LIFEWTR 1-liter bottles. 

Since 2014, Stripes has raised more than $5.8 million for MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. Funds raised from this year's campaign will support MD Anderson's Pediatric Education and Creative Arts program and new pediatric cancer research, with the potential to improve patient treatments and care. 

Stripes Convenience Stores operates more than 415 convenience stores in Texas and Louisiana. It is owned by 7-Eleven Inc. Based in Irving, Texas, 7 Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses to nearly 16,000 stores in North America, and more than 77,000 stores worldwide

Weigel's

The Weigel's Foundation presented Street Hope TN with a $10,000 check as part of Street Hope TN's annual fund-raising campaign. The nonprofit’s mission is to eliminate the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in Tennessee, while providing safe environments to foster hope and healing.

"The Weigel's Foundation was established to give us an avenue to give back to our community," said Kurt Weigel. "Children are our future and when we discovered this meaningful operation so close to us, we knew this was the perfect opportunity to support those who need it most in our community. We are honored to be a sponsor."  

The annual fund-raising will culminated with a virtual simulcast on Sept. 16. The goal of $250,000 will provide for the funding of the first two years of programming when the new safe home opens.

"We are incredibly grateful for Weigel's support of our ministry as we work to eliminate the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in Tennessee, while providing safe environments to foster healing and hope," said Devin Payne, executive director. "By partnering with our ministry, Weigel's is taking an active role in helping protect children in our community as we expand our awareness and prevention programming to train more individuals to identify and report child sex trafficking and to educate more children in order to prevent exploitation from ever happening. In addition, they are helping us open the first long-term, holistic care safe home in Tennessee for child survivors of sex trafficking."

Powell, Tenn.-based Weigel's operates 70 convenience stores, a dairy and a bakery, all within a 100-mile radius of corporate headquarters.