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NATIONAL REPORT -- Giving back through community service efforts and charity donations is a positive force that keeps many retailers and suppliers of this industry moving ahead. On a regular basis, Convenience Store News will highlight these philanthropic efforts in this special section.
Here are the latest company spotlights:
Casey's General Stores
Casey's General Stores' corporate giving program and Manning Family Recovery Center in Iowa joined together to present holiday gifts to the clients of the Manning Family Recovery Center (MFRC). Each client spending the holidays at MFRC was given a $20 Casey's gift card, with $10 of the face amount donated by Casey's and the other $10 matched by Manning Regional Healthcare Center on behalf of MFRC.
Counselor Jennifer Tornow said some clients used their gift cards to buy phone cards to call family, while others treated themselves. Casey's also donated one pizza a month to MFRC so their clients could enjoy it on movie night.
Now in its seventh year, the annual Environmental Community Service Award will again be presented by Wawa (as well as NBC 10 and the environmental law firm of Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP). The goal of the award is to raise awareness of environmental concerns and recognize middle and high schools in the Delaware Valley, Pa., for their efforts in environmental service projects that enhance and improve the quality of life in their communities.
Each year, one high school and one middle school receive a $5,000 honorarium to further their environmental programs. All applications must be signed by a school official and submitted by Monday, March 5. Winners will be announced at a surprise presentation at the top schools prior to Earth Day on April 22.
Rutter's Farm Stores
In 2011, Rutter's Farm Stores made charitable donations to several community organizations, which totaled more than $320,000 for the year.
"In economies as tough as this one, charities need the financial support of the business community more than ever," said Rutter's CEO Scott Hartman.
In April, Rutter's hosted its 9th annual golf outing, benefiting Rutter's Children's Charities at Regent's Glen Golf Course. The two-day outing raised more than $95,000. In May, Rutter's celebrated the opening of its 56th convenience store in Fayetteville, Franklin County, Pa., by donating to three charities.
Rutter's also made significant donations to several other local charities throughout last year:
• The retailer collaborated with York College of Pennsylvania to form the Rutter's Scholar Program, which awards academic scholarships to eligible students to attend York College's high school affiliate, York Country Day School.
• The York County Public Library received $50,000 to provide two years of free Internet access at computers throughout the library system.
• Rutter's continued its sponsorship of the "Going Green" initiative by Junior Achievement of Central PA.
BP plc is donating $4 million to a community college in Houma, La., to help the school train college and high-school students to get oil-field jobs. The oil giant is donating the money to Fletcher Technical Community College, which will use the funds to construct a new building that will include state-of-the art classrooms.
Fletcher's Chancellor Travis Lavigne said the donation is the largest he's seen in his decades-long career at the school.
The building will be located next door to BP's Operations Learning Center near Houma. It is expected to be finished by the end of 2013.
As part of a new corporate marketing campaign launched in December, Tanks of Thanks is a new program that invites Cenex retailers, customers and community members to nominate others for free fuel from their local Cenex retail location, as a way of saying "thank you" for their contributions to their community.
People can participate in the program by visiting TanksofThanks.com and briefly describing why a community member deserves a Tank of Thanks. Each month, 12 nominees will be drawn at random to receive a Tanks of Thanks gift card worth $50 in free fuel.
In addition to the monthly drawing, each Cenex retailer can also give away Tanks of Thanks gift cards to reward individuals they see doing good in their local communities. By the end of 2012, it is anticipated that Tanks of Thanks will recognize more than 2,500 people.
As part of its fall Fueling Good program, CITGO is awarding UNC Dance Marathon with $5,000 in CITGO gift cards to help extend its Ripple of Good and the impact of its work supporting the children and families of North Carolina Children's Hospital.
Each year, UNC Dance Marathon unites University of North Carolina students with members of the community to help young patients and their families. Through the years, UNC Dance Marathon has raised more than $2.8 million for North Carolina Children's Hospital through fundraising events throughout the year, including "percentage" nights at local restaurants and an annual golf tournament followed by a silent auction.
The annual 24-hour dance marathon is the non-profit's largest fundraising event, and it will take place Feb. 17-18.
UNC Dance Marathon is one of 12 CITGO fall Fueling Good winners determined from more than 1,500 charities through a nationwide online vote, with more than 100,000 votes cast to help determine the latest winners.