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Stewart's Shops President Rolls Up His Sleeves

ALTAMONT, N.Y. -- Stewart's Shops President Gary Dake isn't afraid to jump right into store operations, as he continues to prove to his employees. Dake, who has led the company for the past 10 years, visited a local store last week and took on various tasks, including putting away deliveries, running the register and making sandwiches, according to a report by The Saratogian.

Dake's visit was considered a reward for the Altamont location, which proudly displayed a "Welcome Gary" sign. The store increased the amount it raised for the Stewart’s Holiday Match campaign between 2012 and 2013 by 43 percent to $3,649, Store Manager Barbara Roark told the newspaper. “We loved having him here,” she said. “He was not afraid to get his hands dirty, and to work side by side with our employees. More company presidents should do this.”

Dake has done "working visits" for the past five years after the company's Holiday Match program and uses the experiences to enact "real change" in Stewart's Shops. For instance, five years ago all of the stores used buttons on the register to ring up customers. Before long, cashiers were using new scanners.

“I always learn a lot,” Dake told the news outlet during his four-hour visit. “Everything looks easy when you’re in the conference room.”

Although this year's Holiday Match program concluded last week with six less days during the fundraising period, Stewart's Shops saw a 20-percent increase in per diem donations. Donation buckets are placed near the register and many customers drop their spare change. At last count, the total raised was close to last year’s amount of $670,000, which the company will match.

While the fundraising campaign is over, Stewart’s is now looking for charities to accept the donations. Interested organizations can pick up an application at a store or apply at the Stewart’s website: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Stewart's Shops operates 330 convenience stores in upstate New York and southern Vermont.

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