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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:
The Pantry's Kangaroo Express is partnering with Coca-Cola for the fourth consecutive year to send children to Victory Junction, a year-round camping environment for children ages six to 16 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The five-week fundraiser launched March 1 in more than 700 Kangaroo Express convenience stores in North and South Carolina, and Virginia.
Victory Junction was founded in 2004 by Kyle and Pattie Petty in honor of their late son Adam. The camp relies solely on donations from individuals and corporations like Kangaroo Express to give children a once-in-a-lifetime camping experience. It costs $2,500 to send one child to camp for a week at no cost to his or her family.
In addition to donating $1 at the register, Kangaroo Express customers can donate by enjoying Mars candy, including M&M'S and Snickers. For every Mars candy sold through April 30, 10 cents will help support Victory Junction. All funds raised during this campaign will enable Kangaroo Express to sponsor children during two weeks of summer camp.
Kangaroo Express stores in Charleston, S.C., first began raising funds for Victory Junction in 2009 and the effort has since expanded to three states. Support for credit-card donations started in 2011, which helped to more than triple the total donations from the previous year.
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores will donate $25,000 to the American Red Cross, Louisville, Kentucky Regional Chapter to help communities in the southern Indiana and Kentucky areas struck by tornados on March 2.
Several Love's employees in Memphis, Ind., were affected by the severe storm damage, losing their homes and property.
Since the tornados struck last Friday, Love's employees have worked both at Love's and in the community to help residents in their time of need. Love's employees came together to aid those affected by offering free water, paying for meals at the Subway connected to Love's, providing free showers and ensuring all customers had access to items they needed. Love's employees also set up grills and generators in affected areas to serve hot dogs, hamburgers, hot cocoa and more in partnership with the Red Cross.
The Texas A&M Foundation received a $1-million donation from ConocoPhillips to fund the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT Scholars Program and other academic programs at the university. The gift was presented to the foundation earlier this month by Greg Garland, a Texas A&M graduate and the soon-to-be president of the company's spinoff, Phillips 66.
Since 2009, ConocoPhillips has made an annual donation of $1 million to support the SPIRIT Scholars Program. As of last year, the company had donated a cumulative total of at least $5 million to the foundation.
Texas A&M is one of nine universities that participate in the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT Scholars Program. The program provides academic scholarships, additional financial support and mentoring opportunities with ConocoPhillips professionals, as well as internship and employment opportunities with the company.
Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores
In partnership with the BP Fueling Communities program, Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores (MACS) presented a $10,000 check to Children's Miracle Network of Richmond. The grant will help Children's Miracle Network Hospitals continue to offer support to the Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
Fueling Communities, a philanthropic program BP created to help local BP business owners care for their communities, worked with MACS to make the local grant possible. In addition to the grant, MACS has been a long-time supporter of Children's Miracle Network of Richmond. For the past couple of years, MACS and its affiliated dealers have supported children's healthcare causes throughout the greater Richmond area, with Children's Miracle Network of Richmond being the primary focus of the company's campaigns.
It was the recipient of a $1,000 donation at the grand opening of MACS' Business Support Center in April 2011. Many of the retail stores within MACS' network also have participated in a variety of fundraising initiatives, including car washes and carnivals.
Folk Oil's PS Food Mart
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 1-18, 31 PS Food Mart stores in Michigan and Ohio will join together with a goal of raising more than $50,000 to help charities feed needy families across the region.
To donate, customers can go to any one of the participating PS Food Mart locations and buy a paper heart for $1 or $5. All of the proceeds will be given 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 keeping with its past success, PS Food Mart Charities hopes to provide nearly half a million meals to needy families over the course of the campaign.
In conjunction with the "Fight Hunger. Give Hope." campaign, PS Food Mart is introducing a smartphone application that provides updates on gas prices and current discounts and promotions. For every customer that downloads the application from Gas Buddy during the campaign period, PS Food Mart will donate an additional $1 with smartphone coupon redemption by the customer.
The Hershey Co.
Last week, The Hershey Co. started the celebration of its 35th year of the Hershey's Track & Field Games, the largest youth activity program of its kind in North America. To commemorate the occasion, Hershey is inviting families to birthday parties throughout this year that will help them have fun and get active.
Hershey's Track & Field Games encourages kids ages nine to 14 to live balanced, active lifestyles by participating in community track and field games held across the country. This innovative program has been around for more than three decades and continues to encourage children and families to participate in fun physical activities to increase their overall wellbeing.
This year, the Track & Field Games wants to give a 35th birthday gift to all of its fans. Families can visit www.HersheysTrackandField.com to download a free RUN, JUMP, THROW Birthday Party Kit. The kits include instructions on how to play fun, activity-based games like Capture the Birthday Hat, Jump Rope Boogie and Balloon Blast, encouraging the whole family to run, jump and throw together.