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 Cash for Classrooms Grant Program is awarding $1 million to benefit K-12 schools through 99 grants. Cash for Classrooms grants support projects and initiatives taking place at K-12 schools in Casey's communities across the heart of America, including physical improvements, material needs, teacher support and community engagement.
Grants were made possible by donations from Casey's guests during its January round up campaign, a meal deal partnership between Casey's and LIFEWTR, a PepsiCo brand.
"We are grateful to be able to distribute these funds to schools in need through our new, Cash for Classrooms grant program. Together, with our guests and partners like LIFEWTR, we are proud to be able to make a big impact on students and teachers in our communities," said Megan Elfers, vice president of marketing at Casey's.
CITGO Petroleum Corp.
In the wake of severe, back-to-back mid-February winter storms that impacted Texas and Louisiana, CITGO stepped up to provide ongoing support to the communities affected by the weather events. The intense, damaging storms prompted a major disaster declaration from the federal government, and both Texas and Louisiana declared emergencies in impacted counties.
"With CITGO refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas and Lake Charles, La., and our corporate headquarters in Houston, the lion's share of our employees experienced these devastating storms first-hand," said CITGO President and CEO Carlos Jordá. "These are the communities where we live, so we immediately moved to lend a hand."
CITGO is working with community partners to help meet ongoing needs for food and water and medium- to long-term assistance for home repair in Houston and Corpus Christi and Lake Charles. The company committed $225,000 to assist several organizations, including SBP, the Independence Heights Redevelopment Council and Rebuilding Together Houston. Donated funds will be used for wellness checks, food distribution, plumbing repairs and guidance on completing FEMA applications.
In addition to these corporate donations, employees are supporting colleagues in need through the company's CITGO Stands Together Fund. This fund, supported by corporate and employee donations, provides short-term loans and financial assistance to help employees in need.
"As CITGO donates financial resources, the TeamCITGO group of employee volunteers is also donating their time and skills, working alongside our neighbors to recover and rebuild," Jordá said. "As longstanding community members we're proud to do our part."
Enmarket's Enrich Life Campaign, which involves a variety of projects and fundraisers initiated by the Savannah, Ga.-based company, recently raised $160,000 for local charities. The money was divided among two organizations: the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire serves families of fallen first responders, and Make-a-Wish Georgia grants wishes of seriously ill children.
"Our involvement with this fundraiser reflects the spirit of our mission statement, to enrich life," said Brett Giesick, president of Enmarket. "This event and others such as our store fundraiser for Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run, and the Savannah Hockey Classic also demonstrate our interest in promoting a healthy lifestyle and our dedication to the betterment of our community. We are grateful to the many vendor partners that helped make these donations possible."
GT's Living Foods
Kombucha brand GT's Living Foods kicked off its spring campaign, "Transform Your Health," in support of Born This Way Foundation — co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, to support the mental health of young people and build a braver and kinder world — for the fourth consecutive year to spotlight and amplify the stories of real people with real-life experiences of transformational wellbeing.
GT's and Born This Way Foundation celebrate the transformation that takes place both in health and personal growth by showcasing the incredible stories of six people who have bloomed into stronger, more resilient human beings in the face of adversity.
"Every person has the power to grow and transform. From the prioritization of health, to the evolution of self, there's a quiet, but mighty force within all of us just waiting to bloom. The message of Transform Your Health is anchored in this belief," said GT Dave, founder and CEO of GT's Living Foods. "I am so grateful and honored to partner with Born This Way Foundation once again. For four years, we have collaborated to bring to life stories that will motivate and uplift people all over the world to be more understanding, kinder, and ultimately transform their own lives for the better."
Nottingham, Pa.-based Herr's recently donated $25,000 to the Salvation Army's food assistance program as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. The donation provided meals to more than 6,000 families in Philadelphia.
In addition, to commemorate their landmark 75th anniversary, Herr's has launched a limited-edition Homestyle Potato Chip paying homage to the company's first potato chips, which were originally hand-cut. The vintage package design is reminiscent of the company's founding in 1946 by 21-year-old Jim Stauffer Herr with a $1,750 investment.
Mondelēz International & PepsiCo
Mondelēz International and PepsiCo have agreed to cut their use of virgin plastic for packaging as part of increased efforts to eliminate and replace single-use plastics.
Mondelēz set a virgin plastic reduction target for 2025 that will result in a 5-percent absolute reduction in virgin plastic use in overall plastic packaging, including a 25-percent cut in virgin plastic in its rigid plastic packaging. These actions are expected to result in a 10,000-ton reduction of virgin plastic packaging.
The targets will be achieved through elimination of plastic material, packaging redesign, increased use of recycled content in flexible and rigid plastics, and exploration of reuse models, according to the company. Mondelēz's goals will reduce plastic over 2020 baseline usage amounts and will account for projected business growth.
PepsiCo also committed to a time-bound goal for absolute reduction of virgin plastic across its business units but is still assessing the size of the cuts and will announce the goal later in 2021. In 2019, the company agreed to reduce virgin plastic content by 35 percent in its beverage portfolio by 2025; the new reduction target will build on this goal and apply to the other company sectors such as snack and foods divisions Frito Lay and Quaker Oats. The cuts will be achieved through a number of levers related to packaging design to eliminate plastic, reuse business models, product innovation, and increased use of recycled content.
The PepsiCo Foundation instituted a $40-million scholarship and professional mentoring program to support Black and Hispanic aspiring and graduating community college students. Launching in Dallas, Westchester and Houston, Texas, and Chicago, PepsiCo plans to expand the program to 16 additional cities in the fall and aims to support 4,000 students over five years. The program is based on a successful three-year pilot between PepsiCo and City Colleges of Chicago.
The initiative is designed to help Black and Hispanic students pursue and succeed in higher education and gain the training and skills they need for current and future job markets. The comprehensive program provides students with financial support as well as mentoring and leadership training from PepsiCo employees. Students will also have the opportunity to apply for internships and jobs at PepsiCo.
"Education is a great equalizer that enables economic growth, upward mobility and helps build generational wealth that lifts up communities over the long-term," said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta. "With this program, we are creating a differentiated experience for students that goes beyond scholarships by providing critical training, support and other services that will put them on the path to success. Last year, PepsiCo committed to using our resources to combat deep-rooted economic disparities that have long impacted Black and Hispanic communities. We're proud to announce this community college program today as a key part of that effort."
The program is comprised of two types of scholarships: Uplift Scholarships for students seeking two-year associate degrees or trade certificates, and S.M.I.L.E. (Success Matters in Life & Education) scholarships for community college graduates transitioning to four-year colleges. Because students of color are more likely than white students to face challenges like access to affordable housing, childcare support, transportation and food, scholarship recipients will receive funding for education expenses like tuition and books as well as financial support for eligible living expenses.
The endowment is a cornerstone initiative of PepsiCo's more than $570-million commitment over the next five years to lift up Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the United States to address issues of inequality and create opportunity. As part of this effort, PepsiCo is increasing its spending with Hispanic- and Black-owned suppliers, increasing diverse leadership within the company and funding community engagement initiatives.
The Promotion in Motion Cos. Inc.
Allendale, N.J.-based Promotion in Motion donated $100,000 to nonprofits fighting food insecurity across the U.S. and Canada. The donation was divided among 13 charities cross New York and New Jersey, all nominated by company associates. The charities selected support efforts to eradicate food insecurity through a variety of locally sourced solutions.
"This past year has been a challenging one for so many. It is more important than ever to contribute and give back," said The Promotion In Motion Cos. CEO Michael G. Rosenberg. "We are proud to use the power of our organization to help support the heroes who work on the front lines every day to end food insecurity."
Rutter's Children's Charities is continuing its annual Vote with Your Dollars charitable program in 2021, with voting running from April 1 through Oct. 31. This year, 13 central Pennsylvania charities will be participating in the competition with a total of $70,000 to be given out. The top two programs will receive the requested $25,000 in funding, while the remaining monies will be divided among the third and fourth charities. Winners will be announced in November.
"Supporting our communities is an important part of our charitable mission," said Chris Hartman, president of Rutter's Children's Charities. "We're thrilled to continue Vote With Your Dollars in 2021 because it gives shoppers throughout Rutter's footprint the opportunity to choose a charity they believe is deserving. This allows us to benefit organizations that matter to Rutter’s customers."
The Vote With Your Dollars program allows Rutter's VIP loyalty members to choose the local charity they will support with their purchases at any Rutter's location. During the campaign, every dollar spent at the pump or inside the store counts as a vote for the charity they have selected. They are able to select their charity of choice online or through Rutter's mobile app.
Since its inception in 2015, Vote with Your Dollars winners have received more than $280,000 to support their programs.
Applications for the 2022 Vote With Your Dollars Program are currently being accepted. To apply, interested charities can complete the online application form with the appropriate documentation. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 28, 2022.
Speedway raised $11 million for kids treated at Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals across the United States in 2020, impacted 81 hospitals.
In addition to monetary contributions, Speedway donated 7,000 N95 masks and 3,000 surgical masks to 11 children’s hospitals located in initial COVID-19 hotspot areas to help protect medical professionals on the frontlines treating the youngest members of the community.
"I am extremely proud of what our team was able to accomplish with CMN Hospitals fundraising in 2020, despite the challenges we faced with the pandemic. The level of support from our customers, vendor partners and employees was remarkable," said Tim Griffith, president of Speedway. "It is truly an honor to partner with an organization that is committed to improving the lives of sick and injured children in the communities where we operate. This localized support allows us to see the funds we raise make a difference in the lives of so many families directly."
Speedway's partnership with CMN Hospitals began in 1991 and has since raised more than $133 million for the children's charity through various fundraising activities. The majority of funds come from year-long canister collection and pin pad prompts at the point of sale in Speedway stores, company-wide campaign weekends benefitting stores' affiliated CMN hospital, and other localized campaigns.
The convenience retailer also holds the annual Speedway Miracle Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, which in 2020 raised more than $2 million. This event is one of the largest golf events in the country benefiting CMN Hospitals. Each year, Speedway organizes the Miracle Children Program, where patient families from supported hospitals share their stories to raise awareness of the ongoing needs of children’s hospitals and how changing kids’ health can positively change the future of their communities.
TravelCenters of America Inc.
TravelCenters of America (TA) donated $24,960 to the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) as part of a candy promotion with World’s Finest Chocolate (WFC).
In February, guests visiting TA's travel centers had the opportunity to purchase a WFC candy bar at the registers, with a portion of the proceeds going to SCF, a nonprofit offering financial assistance to ill or injured professional drivers and health and wellness programs.
"We're pleased to offer this donation to the St. Christopher Trucker's Relief Fund," said Barry Richards, president of TA. "We're grateful for the millions of professional drivers who are the backbone of the trucking industry and will continue doing what we can to support such an important organization."
TA began its support of SCF in 2010 and has raised nearly $3 million for the organization.
The Wills Group
The Wills Group, operator of 300 retail locations across the Mid-Atlantic region, including Dash In, Splash In ECO Car Wash and SMO Motor Fuels, kicked off an additional $500,000 in unrestricted grants to its regional food bank and local nonprofit partners as a continuation of its efforts to respond to the rising hunger crisis throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. This round of grants brings the Wills Group’s philanthropic response to COVID-19 to $1 million since March 2020.
The $500,000 in grants will be distributed across four regional food banks and three local southern Maryland nonprofit partners:
- Capital Area Food Bank, Feed More, Food Bank of Delaware and Maryland Food Bank each receiving $100,000;
- LifeStyles of Maryland was granted $50,000; and
- Farming 4 Hunger and Southern Maryland Food Bank each received $25,000.
The Wills Group also released its 2020 Community Engagement Report, reflecting on its impact during the 2020 fiscal year and providing an overview of the the company's increased support of its partners working on the frontlines during the pandemic.
In 2020, the Wills Group provided $500,000 in grants to its regional food bank and local nonprofit partners, hosted a mobile food bank at Wills Group headquarters in La Plata, Md., and launched Dash In’s Lift Up program to honor healthcare professionals and first responders.
"As the pandemic has continued to exacerbate food insecurity nationwide, we have kept in close contact with our regional food bank and local nonprofit partners to understand their challenges and identify the best way to support their efforts to increase food access for kids and families in our communities," said Lock Wills, president, CEO and chairman of the Wills Group. "We felt it was important to use our 2020 Community Engagement Report to echo the increased needs of our food bank partners and ask the public to join us in addressing the rising hunger crisis."
Other achievements celebrated in the Wills Group 2020 Community Engagement Report include:
- 37 grants distributed;
- Seven food banks and pantries supported across the Mid-Atlantic region;
- 23 organizations supported; and
- Nearly $175,000 raised at the fourth annual Blackie Wills Golf Classic in support of the Blackie Wills Community Leadership Fund.