A Culture Of Giving


Cumberland Farms donates millions in cash and products to charitable causes

Generosity is a familiar term for many convenience store chains. As Convenience Store News' own Spirit Awards for Community Outreach program shows every year, the c-store industry knows how important helping the community can be. But good intentions don't always lead to effective results, especially without an organized program for helping.

That's why Cumberland Farms set itself apart from the crowd by formalizing its corporate giving program several years ago. Since then, the Framingham, Mass.-based chain has donated millions of dollars in cash and products to charitable causes.

These days, the program is "primarily focused on youth, from teenagers down to babies, in particular looking at education and health and activities that help development," Cumberland Farms' Vice President Gwen Forman told CSNews, noting that many of the company's employees, as well as its customers, are young. "That's a good fit with our business."

The giving program functions on both the corporate and local levels, but there's one thing that remains consistent. "It's really about the betterment of young people," said Forman.

The most obvious example is Cumberland Farms' Believe and Achieve scholarship program, the oldest of the company's formalized charitable programs, which awards more than $100,000 annually to college-bound teenagers. The program is widespread across the chain's entire market; any teenager within 30 miles of a Cumberland Farms store can apply.

While the Believe and Achieve program gives a boost to young adults preparing to leave the nest, Cumberland Farms' local fundraising events help out closer to home. Every time a newly remodeled store reopens, the company selects a local cause with input from the store's manager. For a month after the opening, Cumberland Farms donates a portion of drinks sold, such as 20 cents from each cup of coffee or Chill Zone beverage, to that cause.

The chain partners with approximately 50 organizations each year for these fundraisers. The organizations vary in scope and purpose, but they're all focused on the community, stated Forman. "Research goes into this to make sure it's a good fit," she said. And because the benefiting organizations tend to be smaller, their need is greater.

Cumberland Farms' newest formal giving program, the Pediatric Care Campaign, travels through seven states month by month. Similar to the local fundraisers, a designated partner hospital receives a percentage of sales from a certain dispensed beverage within the region. The campaign kicked off in February by raising money in Vermont and New Hampshire stores for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

The company looks for reputable hospitals to partner with in compatible geographic areas. Following the donation period, Cumberland Farms presents each hospital with a check for the amount raised.

"We want to be viewed as a strong community partner, not this nameless, faceless, 600-store chain," said Forman.

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