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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
Last week, Kangaroo Express and its parent company, The Pantry Inc., joined the USO of North Carolina in welcoming more than 200 servicemen and women returning to Fort Bragg with breakfast before being addressed by President Obama.
The servicemen and women were treated to Kangaroo Express' Bean Street Coffee, Subway and Hardee's breakfast sandwiches, and refreshments from Lance, Pepsi, Kellogg's, McLane and Bon Appetit.
The Pantry also recently presented a check for $62,000 to the Guard's Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund. The donation is the largest corporate donation ever received by the organization, according to the fund's director, retired Maj. Dennis Roach.
"You protect us. We run convenience stores and make a great cup of coffee, but we can help take care of you," said John Fisher, senior vice president of marketing at Kangaroo Express. "We did not know we could raise so much money. To our customers, we say thank you."
With more than half of its stores located within 25 miles of a military installation, Kangaroo Express has supported the military and their families for many years, most recently raising $2.5 million for the USO, Wounded Warrior Project and local military support organizations as part of its summer-long "Salute Our Troops" fundraising campaign.
A third of the convenience store's associates has either served in the military or currently has family enlisted.
United Supermarkets, parent of United Express convenience stores, gave a $3 million gift to the Texas Tech Foundation Inc., to endow two scholarship programs at Texas Tech University and provide operational support for nursing programs at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
It is the second-largest financial gift in United Supermarkets' history, behind the $10 million it pledged in 1996 toward the construction of the university's United Spirit Arena.
The initial $2 million of the gift will go toward creating the United Supermarkets Graduate Fellowship Endowment, providing graduate fellowships and enhancing the research work of graduate students attending Texas Tech University. Recipients must have attended high school within the United Supermarkets trade area.
Another $700,000 will create the United Supermarkets Scholarship Endowment, providing scholarships for undergraduate students who also attended high school within the United Supermarkets trade area.
The remaining $300,000 is earmarked for operational support of the new Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in Abilene, Texas.
Philadelphia's Operation Brotherly Love, a holiday carnival that supports more than 400 Philadelphia-area families in need and provides more than 1,000 children with personalized holiday gifts and brand-new winter coats, is supported in a big way by Wawa, a leading partner of the event.
Led by the efforts of Adam Schall, Wawa's planning and analysis director, Wawa's support grew substantially this year, as did the event itself, doubling in size since last year. In fact, the December 10 event grew so significantly that two carnival events were held for the children, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to accommodate all of the additional families included.
This year, Operation Brotherly Love served families from the Mayor's Office of Community Service, PAL (Police Athletic League), Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Northern Home.
Hundreds of Wawa family and friends attended and helped in various ways, from preparing and serving lunch, snacks and treats throughout the day, to hosting families and making sure they experienced every fun element of the carnival.
Little General Stores
Little General Stores in West Virginia pledged a $50,000 donation to Remember the Miners, a non-profit group that raises money and awareness for coal miners and their families. Bob Huggins, West Virginia University men's basketball coach and honorary chairman of Remember the Miners, accepted the pledge Tuesday from Little General Stores in Beckley, according to a news release.
"Little General demonstrates once again that they are committed to coal-mining families living and working in the communities in which they serve," said West Virginia University student Jason Parsons, Remember the Miners president. "In 2012, we will continue to work with Little General to bring awareness to the hard work and commitment of the American coal miner."
In the past, Little General has joined Remember the Miners to launch a concert series at stores throughout the state featuring local musical rtists. The company's stores have also sold items to benefit the organization.
CITGO launched the seventh consecutive year of its CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program. The program will help more than 400,000 people this year in 25 states, including members of more than 60 Native American tribes, families living in tenant-owned cooperatives, residents of more than 250 homeless shelters and thousands of single-family households.
Since 2005, CITGO has invested more than $400 million in energy assistance to those in need. Last year alone, more than $60 million in heating oil was donated to low-income families and individuals.
CITGO partners with Citizens Energy Corp., a non-profit created in 1979 by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to implement the program. Citizens Energy, which has used successful ventures in the energy and health care industries to finance charitable programs in the United States and abroad, has provided energy assistance to families in need for 30-plus years.