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    7-Eleven Expands Hurricane Katrina Relief

    National canister program and phone cards to provide cash and communications; c-store chain also debuts Kenya AA coffee.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. launched several initiatives to expand its Hurricane Katrina response, which combined could raise up to $1 million for disaster relief efforts.

    Participating 7-Eleven stores nationwide are serving as official cash-donation sites for customer contributions through Nov. 30. One half of the proceeds collected will go to fund immediate hurricane relief efforts by the American Red Cross, the other half will address long-term needs with a newly created scholarship program, implemented by Education is Freedom, for qualified students impacted by the hurricane.

    "7-Eleven has a long history of helping our communities--everyday and in times of disaster--and this was no exception," said Nancy Lear, national manager of community relations for 7-Eleven. "Now we're stepping up our efforts because the need demands it. Recovery will take time and enormous amounts of money. We want to help increase awareness and contributions."

    During October, one of 7-Eleven's suppliers will match customer donations up to $75,000 each for the American Red Cross and Education is Freedom, 7-Eleven's signature charity which is implementing the Katrina scholarship program, for a total gift of up to $150,000.

    Customers who donate $1 or more in-store can receive a strand of Mardi Gras beads, in a campaign 7-Eleven calls "Beads for the Bayou," to show their support and participation, while supplies last. The company is also donating $150,000 to help the American Red Cross reach its goal of $2 billion in Katrina relief funds.

    The newly formed parent company of Seven-Eleven Japan and IYG Holding Company, Seven & I Holdings in Tokyo, also created a Hurricane Katrina relief campaign in Japan. Approximately 12,000 7-Eleven stores and other businesses operated by the company participated in the fund drive through Sept. 25 to benefit the American Red Cross.

    The company has joined with Verizon Communications Inc. to distribute $50,000 worth of $5 prepaid phone cards to evacuees. An initial 2,000 cards were distributed in the days after the hurricane struck to help victims contact friends and relatives. The Red Cross will distribute the remaining cards while supplies last to shelter residents in Louisiana and Alabama.

    Many 7-Eleven stores have been collecting donations for the American Red Cross since the hurricane struck Aug. 29, and immediately after the disaster 7-Eleven worked with its suppliers to provide fresh sandwiches, energy bars and its proprietary Classic Selection water for thousands of stranded victims. The company has hired 13 Katrina evacuees for store positions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and is continuing to interview others displaced by the disaster.

    A New Brew

    In other 7-Eleven news, the chain's hot beverage bars will have an African flavor with the introduction of Kenya AA, the first single-origin coffee available under the 7-Eleven's new World Roasts brand. Considered one of the world's great coffees, Kenya AA is a full-bodied variety that boasts intense flavor, bright acidity and complex fruit and wines tones. Sampling cups will be available at participating stores for customers to take a preview sip of the exotic new coffee.

    "This isn't just a new coffee flavor for 7-Eleven, it's an entirely new segment of our business, in which we will be introducing selections originating from exotic locales specifically known for growing the finest beans," said Donald Driver, 7-Eleven category manager for hot beverages. "World Roasts targets serious coffee-drinkers as well as adults who are looking for a richer, more intense coffee flavor. While medium in weight, Kenya AA has deeply dimensioned qualities.

    "Many coffees are blends of beans with differing qualities and origins," he added. "Single-origin coffees offer the rich, true flavor of these exotic gourmet beans with no dilution of taste. Kenya AA is considered a boutique coffee, and is the finest grade that country offers. I think our coffee customers will love its rich, full-bodied flavor, all at the same price our customers pay for any of our other coffees or hot beverages."

    New World Roasts coffee flavors will be introduced quarterly. In January, 7-Eleven stores will present its second World Roasts specialty coffee offering -- Hawaiian Kona.

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