Gifts That Keep Giving

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Gifts That Keep Giving

NEW YORK -- Hundreds of c-store retailers, from Aloha Petroleum to Valero Corp., give millions of dollars to popular charitable organizations, such as Children's Miracle Network, Toys for Tots, St. Jude Children's Hospital, United Way, Meals on Wheels and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Many are getting more bang for their buck by focusing their efforts on specific areas of charitable giving, from youth programs to safe haven programs for abuse victims.

"We've realized that the community, in total, responds positively," said Louie Sheetz, executive vice president, marketing, for Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc., which operates more than 330 convenience stores in six states. "Everybody sees need. I think consumers appreciate businesses that meet some of those needs, and in some way or another, reward those businesses that do."

Scott Hartman, president of CHR Corp., which operates Rutter's Farm Stores based in York, Pa., points to economics as the reason why the convenience and petroleum retailing industry is being more generous.

"The industry has had some pretty good years the past several years," said last year's NACS chairman. "Also, we all know that we're in the same race to get more customers. When you take care of them and their communities, and you can convey that, it helps you win that race."

Over the last four years, Rutter's has doled out more than $800,000 to programs that benefits the communities it serves.

Many savvy convenience store chains have developed cultures of caring and giving that evolved from their founding and have been passed along to subsequent generations of executives and employees. And while it feels good to do good at all levels of an organization, many companies have learned that philanthropy -- particularly at the community level where stores are located -- is a powerful marketing and communications tool when properly approached and executed. Convenience Store News takes an in-depth look at this important topic in its March 5 issue. Don't miss it.