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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:
Tiger Fuel Co.
The Tiger Fuel Co. is helping hungry families in Central Virginia. The fuel distributor won a $2,500 grant through BP's Fueling Communities program to support the Nelson County Food Pantry, which feeds more than 800 people each month.
Last year, the pantry lost hundreds of Thanksgiving turkeys because of a broken freezer and spent thousands of dollars to replace the spoiled birds. Tiger Fuel said its employees appreciate the work the food pantry does and wanted to help.
BP started its Fueling Communities program last year and Tiger Fuel has won grants for two central Virginia non-profits already. The first went to a Nelson County non-profit. The two grants have donated nearly $6,000.
Chevron Corp. donated $793,100 to The University of Texas at Austin. The gift represents the company's investment for the year. The majority of the funding is allocated to support students in the McCombs School of Business, Cockrell School of Engineering and Jackson School of Geosciences -- the primary areas from which Chevron recruits employees.
Undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, student organizations and activities, and laboratory renovations are among the things the company is supporting this year.
Including its latest contribution, Chevron's cumulative philanthropic giving to the university stands at more than $47.7 million.
In other Chevron news, Chevron Energy Solutions and the South San Francisco Unified School District activated the largest K-12 solar and energy efficiency program in San Mateo County. The project has provided nearly 100 local green jobs and is expected to reduce the district's utility costs by $20 million over the next 25 years. The project is anchored by solar panel arrays at 15 elementary, middle and high school sites throughout the district. In total, the systems are expected to produce 1.68 megawatts of electricity, directly offsetting much of the district's energy needs at each site.
The project was funded through Measure J, a local bond measure approved by voters in November 2010 that raised $162 million specifically to improve school infrastructure and enhance the student learning environment.
The project is the latest in a series completed by Chevron Energy Solutions and local school districts. Chevron has spent approximately $4.4 billion on renewable energy and efficiency since 2002, and expects to spend $2.2 billion in this area between 2011 and 2013.
Reay's Ranch Investors
Reay's Ranch Investors' Super Stop, Minit Markets and Gordon's IGA set a new record in their effort to raise funds for Arizona's Children Association (AzCA). The "To Infinity and Beyond" campaign had a 2011 goal of $160,000 to support Arizona's Children Association programs and services in the areas served by Reay's Ranch Investors stores. But instead, they raised a record $179,438 last year.
Reay's fundraising efforts since 2006 have raised more than $656,000 for AzCA.
FuelCo, which operates various retail and convenience stores throughout Connecticut and New York, sold $20,000 worth of scanable cards within just six weeks to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI). Available in increments of $1, the cards were sold at the register and then hung on a special wall or window at the store with the name of the buyer.
Based on the success of this fundraising campaign, which ran in only 15 of the company's more than 150 Shell, Mobil and BP stations in the Northeast, Sammy M. Eljamal, president of Wholesale Fuels, a FuelCo subsidiary, leveraged a few sites to see what having strategic locations could do for the DRI. Eljamal plans to expand the fundraising promotion to more retailers and their outlets across the United States.
PS Food Mart Charities, created by CITGO marketer Folk Oil, launched its third annual "Fight Hunger. Give Hope." campaign, a fundraiser dedicated to supporting local food banks in the communities it serves. From March 1 through March 18, 31 PS Food Mart stores in Michigan and Ohio joined together with a goal of raising more than $50,000 to help charities feed needy families across the region.
To donate, customers went to any one of the participating PS Food Mart locations and purchased a paper heart for $1 or $5. All of the proceeds went directly to area charities, including the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank and other local food pantries in the communities that PS Food Mart serves.
In conjunction with the "Fight Hunger. Give Hope." campaign, PS Food Mart also introduced a smartphone application that provides updates on gas prices and current discounts and promotions. For every customer that downloaded the application from Gas Buddy, PS Food Mart donated an additional $1 to the campaign with smartphone coupon redemption by the customer.
Stewart's Shops has pledged $60,000 for SUNY Empire State College scholarships, which the college foundation will match. The money will be available over a three-year period to support community college graduates continuing their education at Empire State College.
With the foundation's match, the program will provide $40,000 annually for community college graduates who live or work in the Stewart's Shops service area. Stewart's funded a similar program starting in 2007, and when this round of funding is completed in 2015, the program will have raised a total of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
The Radiant Group
The Radiant Group was recognized recently by the Pediatric Cancer Foundation (PCF) for the company's donation of more than $100,000, which was raised through its third annual fundraising campaign to support pediatric cancer research.
Radiant encouraged its customers to add $1 or more to their purchases at area convenience stores in Radiant's network. In return, customers were entered for a chance to win a $250 gas card each week and received a "PCF Sunshine" that was displayed in the store. The goal of the campaign was not only to raise funds, but also to raise significant awareness of PCF's critical mission.
Radiant helped initiate the Pediatric Cancer Foundation's "Sunshine Campaign" three years ago. The campaign aims to increase awareness and funds for the PCF mission by asking consumers at participating retailers to donate at the register or "round-up" their bill. In just three years, The Radiant Group has raised more than $240,000 for PCF through its participation in the Sunshine Campaign.
With the goal of sharing one million breakfasts with kids throughout America who might otherwise go hungry, Kellogg Co. served up breakfast at convenience store corporate headquarters across the country through its "Share Your Breakfast" campaign, also sponsored by Action for Healthy Kids.
During National Breakfast Week, held March 4 -10, Kellogg hosted Share Your Breakfast events at several convenience retailer's headquarters, including Circle K Great Lakes Division, Pilot Flying J, Holiday Stationstores, The Pantry and Plaid Pantry.
For every breakfast an employee shared, Kellogg donated money to Action for Healthy Kids to help increase school breakfast participation.