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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:
RaceTrac stores in Hammond, La. are partnering with Southeastern Louisiana University to raise funds for Southeastern Athletics and Southeastern students. The main event is a "Battle of the Sexes" contest for all students, faculty and staff from Feb. 1 through April 30. The contest will count all inside store purchases, gas not included, at RaceTrac's three Hammond locations.
Beginning Feb. 1, any Southeastern student, faculty or staff member can show their university ID when making purchases inside any of the three Hammond RaceTrac locations, and those purchases will be tracked. The gender that has the most sales at the end of the contest will receive $2,000 for that gender's athletic programs, courtesy of RaceTrac, and also receive either a Southeastern men-only or women-only RaceTrac-sponsored party in their honor. The runner-up will receive $1,000 for their athletic programs.
In other RaceTrac community news, starting Feb. 3, the chain began a six-month program to help nudge Dallas-Fort Worth's McKinney Independent School District (ISD) through the statewide budget deficit in education. At customers' request, the convenience store's McKinney locations will be giving 5 percent of in-store sales to the school district.
Residents simply must let a RaceTrac cashier know they want 5 percent of the cost of their purchase to go toward McKinney ISD, which plans to use the money for math, science and fine arts programs and equipment. The McKinney RaceTrac stores will have a special bar code behind the register that enables tracking of the 5-percent purchases.
The Parker Cos.
The Parker Cos. presented donations from its "Fueling the Community" program to four Bluffton, S.C., schools totaling $2,500. It also presented a "Fueling the Community" donation to Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools totaling $2.500.
Parker's offers a 1-Cent Wednesdays "Fueling the Community" program at all of the company's convenience stores, whereby one cent of every gallon of gas purchased on the first Wednesday of the month is donated back to community schools.
To participate in Parker's "Fueling the Community" program, individuals can sign up for a PumpPal card online at www.parkersav.com or in any one of Parker's convenience stores. After completing the PumpPal card registration, individuals can select a school of their choice to receive their one-cent-per-gallon donation. Existing PumpPal members also can access their account online and select a school to receive donations.
The ExxonMobil Foundation gave a $500,000 grant to Teach For America to help improve math and science education for more than 25,000 students from low-income communities in Dallas, Houston, South Louisiana and Washington, D.C.
The grant will allow Teach For America to recruit approximately 400 new math and science teachers from top colleges and provide intensive training and career development to enhance high-quality classroom instruction. These teachers will work in urban and rural school districts with significant numbers of students from low-income backgrounds.
The ExxonMobil Foundation grant extends a 17-year partnership with Teach For America and enables improved education for students from low-income families. The Teach For America grant is part of a long-term commitment to education by ExxonMobil and the ExxonMobil Foundation, including programs that support the professional development of highly qualified teachers, encourage students to take an active interest in careers in the math and science fields, and promote involvement of women and minorities.
BP and MACS
In partnership with the BP "Fueling Communities" program, Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores (MACS) presented a check for $10,000 to FeedMore's Central Virginia Food Bank. The grant will help the Food Bank distribute 50,000 meals to the one-in-seven Central Virginians who live in food-insecure households.
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, MACS has an ongoing commitment to address the issue of hunger in the Mid-Atlantic region, where the company operates. Throughout this past holiday season, associates at MACS' Business Support Center collected more than 1,000 pounds of food for the Central Virginia Food Bank.
Manley's Mighty Mart
With the help of its customers, Binghamton, N.Y.-based Manley's Mighty Mart's Paws for a Caws Campaign was able to fundraise $2,629 for The Humane Society this holiday season. The funds helped many animals in their great time of need after the area's 2011 flood.
The Humane Society is an independent, non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to preventing animal cruelty and finding homes for companion animals. It serves the community by sheltering animals, finding them homes, investigating reports of animal cruelty, educating people of all ages, and rescuing animals from threatening situations.
Corona Extra and Corona Light are teaming up again this year to support The V Foundation for Cancer Research. From March 5 through April 3, the "Find a Cure" donation campaign will encourage consumers to join Corona Extra, Corona Light and The V Foundation in the fight against cancer by making charitable contributions at participating bars, restaurants and store locations, or by visiting the donation page at www.jimmyv.org/findacure. The V Foundation will apply 100 percent of the proceeds toward cancer research.
Coinciding with the college basketball tournament in March, patrons at thousands of partnering bars and restaurant locations across the country also can show their support in the quest for a cure by filling out a "Find a Cure" paper basketball donation recognition decal, complete with their name and whom their donation supports.
Since its inception in 1993, The V Foundation, founded by legendary North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano and ESPN, has raised more than $120 million for cancer research.
The Hershey Co.
The Hershey Co. will help reinforce cocoa sustainability efforts by accelerating farmer and family development in West Africa, where 70 percent of the world's cocoa is grown. Over the next five years, Hershey plans to expand and accelerate programs to improve cocoa communities by investing $10 million in West Africa and continuing to work with experts in agriculture, community development and government to achieve progress with cocoa farmers and their families.
By 2017, Hershey's public and private partnerships will directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and more than two million people in cocoa communities across the region. Because cocoa farms are family farms, improving farming increases family income. Today, West African farmers can increase their cocoa output by 50 percent through modern methods. Doing so also will increase school attendance and improve community health, according to the company.
Later this year, U.S. consumers will be able to purchase Hershey's Bliss products with 100-percent cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers, their families and communities.