Soaring To New Heights

Community service takes center stage at 2012 CSNews Spirit Awards winners Kangaroo Express, Valero Corner Store, SuperAmerica and Jiffy Mart

In the convenience store industry, it takes more than location to become a part of a community. Fundraisers, community events and holiday happenings help c-store operators stand apart from their competition, but only if their hearts and spirits are fully behind the efforts.

The Pantry Inc.'s Kangaroo Express chain, with its far-reaching efforts to support military members and their families, is a shining example of the good done by the convenience retail industry and for that, it is the winner of this year's Grand Spirit Award for Community Outreach, the convenience industry's community service awards program sponsored by Convenience Store News.

Launched in 2009, the CSNews Spirit Awards for Community Outreach honor convenience retailers that are involved in community service programs aimed at bettering the lives of the people in the markets they serve.

In addition to Kangaroo Express, these convenience store retailers are also named 2012 Spirit Awards winners in their respective chain-size categories:

  • For companies with one to 99 stores: Tevis Oil/Jiffy Mart
  • For companies with 100 to 499 stores: Northern Tier Energy/SuperAmerica
  • For companies with 500-plus stores: Valero Energy Corp./Corner Store

Kangaroo Express, with more than 1,500 stores across the Southeast, is well-established as an industry standout in community service. The Cary, N.C.-based retailer won the Spirit Award last year for companies with 500-plus stores — primarily for its inaugural Salute Our Troops campaign. In 2011, the Memorial Day through Labor Day drive raised $2.5 million and broke fundraising efforts for many of the beneficiary organizations, including being the largest grassroots initiative for the USO in its 70-year history.

This year, the chain not only beat last year's numbers, it knocked them out of the ballpark, raising more than $3 million during its second annual Salute Our Troops campaign this summer.

Valero Energy Corp.'s Corner Store portfolio is also well-known for giving back. In addition to the thousands of volunteer hours donated by the company's employees, Valero has been linked with several national charities such as the Children's Miracle Network, Muscular Dystrophy Association and the United Way.

The San Antonio-based company also lends it name and support to the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open. The 2011 Valero Texas Open was the most successful in the tournament's 87-year history, teaming with the Valero Texas Open Benefit for Children to contribute a record $9 million to charity.

Northern Tier Energy's SuperAmerica chain, the winner in the mid-size category, takes community service seriously and it shows. The company formed a donation committee that meets once a month and its efforts have paid off. SuperAmerica locations raised more than $1 million in the past year.

Like its fellow Spirit Awards recipients, Tevis Oil's Jiffy Mart stores also have had a banner year in charitable giving. The retailer surpassed its 2010-2011 fundraising milestones by raising more than double the amount as of August. The company donates to national organizations — including St. Jude Children's Hospital and the American Cancer Foundation — as well as several local charities. The company even utilizes new technology in its campaigns, highlighting community service efforts via social media.

— Melissa Kress

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