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Giving In A Grand Way


Kum & Go, Kangaroo Express, Thorntons and Wallis Cos. recognized for extensive community service efforts

Kum & Go LC, operator of more than 400 convenience stores in 11 Midwestern states, is this year's winner of the Grand Spirit Award for Community Outreach, the convenience industry's community service awards program sponsored by Convenience Store News.

The Spirit Awards for Community Outreach program was launched in 2009 to celebrate convenience retailers that are involved in community service programs aimed at bettering the lives of the people in the markets they serve. Along with Kum & Go, these c-store retailers also were named 2011 Spirit Award winners in their respective chain-size categories:

■ For companies with one to 99 stores: Wallis Cos.

■ For companies with 100 to 499 stores: Thorntons Inc.

■ For companies with 500-plus stores: Kangaroo Express (The Pantry).

Kum & Go proved its commitment many times in the past year, most notably in its response to a devastating tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., on May 22. The CSNews' 2011 Grand Spirit Award winner immediately responded, dispatching a crisis team that was onsite within 12 hours to donate its time and resources. That was followed by a chainwide “HELP JOPLIN” campaign that raised $93,910 from Kum & Go employees and customers in just 10 days. In addition, the retailer's foundation supplied an additional check for a grand total of $115,000 that was sent to the American Red Cross.

Kum & Go is certainly no stranger to the Spirit Awards for Community Outreach. The company was a Spirit Award winner among c-store chains operating 100 to 499 stores last year.

This year's winner in the big chain (500-plus stores) is Kangaroo Express, the store banner operated by The Pantry Inc. The Cary, N.C.-based retailer enjoys philanthropic partnerships with many worthy causes, but Kangaroo Express' commitment to military personnel and their families is unrivaled. The operator of 1,600 convenience stores throughout the Southeast launched its “Salute Our Troops” campaign on Memorial Day with a fundraising goal of $1 million by Labor Day — which was surpassed by July 4th to finish the summer with a total of $2.5 million in donations for military families.

Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons Inc., the Spirit Award winner in the mid-size (100 to 499 stores) category, was honored for integrating the spirit of giving with company leadership and team member participation. At Thorntons, it all starts at the local level. The retailer encourages its team members to volunteer for organizations and charities and offer their time and talents to community improvement projects and fundraising activities.

One new volunteer program this year for Louisville's Dare to Care food bank saw senior Thorntons leadership and new hires work side by side to sort and pack food products for local families in need. The team's reaction was so strong that it prompted the retailer's Chicago stores to seek out a local food bank where managers spent a day.

The Wallis Cos., based in Cuba, Mo., is this year's winner in the small chain category (one to 99 stores). The 38-store convenience chain not only maintains corporate community service programs, but also encourages all of its customers and associates to support the neighborhoods in which they live and work.

CSNews congratulates all the 2011 Spirit Award winners.

— Don Longo

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