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    Community Service Spotlight

    VPS Convenience Store Group, Wawa and Thorntons are among the latest industry givers.

    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:

    VPS Convenience Store Group
    VPS Convenience Store Group and the ExxonMobil Educational Alliance program awarded $25,000 in grant funding to 50 schools throughout its southeast service area to support math and science education. The company worked closely with school officials to secure the grants, available to schools across the country served by Exxon or Mobil stations.

    "During times of budget cuts and limited outside funding, we are proud to be able to provide our local schools with this financial support," said Jeff Turpin, CEO of VPS Convenience Store Group. "It's important to make learning fun for the young people in the communities we serve, particularly in the fields of math and science."

    Stewart's Shops
    Stewart's Shops is teaming up with customers and media partners for its 25th annual Holiday Match. From Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day, Stewart's will match individual donations made to the Holiday Match program in all 328 Stewart's Shops in N.Y. and Vt.

    Last year, Stewart's matched customers' record donation of $640,000 for a total of $1.28 million. Since 1986, the Holiday Match program has donated almost $15 million to local children's organizations.

    "Every year, our customers have increased their donations to help meet the growing needs of the children's organizations in their communities, taking advantage of having their contributions matched," said Stewart's Foundation President Susan Dake. "In these challenging times, we are trying to fill as many needs as possible; as the economy continues to struggle, we expect the number of applications to increase again this year."

    The goal of the Holiday Match is to encourage individual giving and broaden the base of support for local charities. Stewart's Holiday Match is a 501c3 foundation; all donations are tax-deductible. Stewart's gladly accepts funds from groups or businesses, but only matches individual donations.

    Last Friday, about 80 Wawa associates teamed up with members of the USO to provide U.S. troops with a taste of home through Wawa Care Packages. The packages were filled with Wawa coffee, nuts and cashews, as well as letters expressing thoughts and thanks from the chain's associates and community members.

    After two hours of care-package creating, Wawa's event ended as military Humvees drove off with the packages to the Horsham Air Station, where they were added to larger packages and then shipped to deployed military.

    This event is part of a larger care package shipment called Operation Stocking Stuffer, an initiative organized by the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO), which will send thousands of care packages to the troops. Wawa has been sending coffee at the request of soldiers since 2002.

    Atlas Oil Co.
    On Sunday, Dec. 4, Atlas Oil Co.'s charitable arm, Atlas Cares, will host its 5th annual Selfridge Air National Guard Base (SANGB) Holiday Party in Mt. Clemens, Mich. This event is held each year to honor and recognize the men and women who fight for the nation's freedom.

    Attendees will include Sam Simon, CEO and owner of Atlas Oil Co., 1,200 to 1,500 military members and their families and Atlas Care volunteers. Event happenings will include live entertainment, a buffet meal, games, Santa visits and gifts for children.

    Last week, Thorntons Inc. and the American Red Cross joined forces to show their appreciation for the sacrifice of the soldiers of Fort Knox, Ky. As part of Thorntons' Humanitarian Day event, 300 Thorntons team members traveled to Fort Knox, and assembled 200 bicycles and 4,000 care packages for the American Red Cross' Santa's Workshop program and for soldiers returning home from Afghanistan.

    Every year around the holidays, the Fort Knox American Red Cross'' Santa's Workshop program opens its doors to allow soldiers and their families to "shop"" for free toys for their children. In recent years, there has been a high demand for bicycles. Because of the limited funds, Santa's Workshop has not been able to meet the demand.

    Last year, after learning about the Santa's Workshop program, Thorntons partnered with the Red Cross and provided 100 bicycles and 3,500 care packages to soldiers and their families.

    "This is our chance for our team members to give back to the soldiers at Fort Knox," said Matt Thornton, president and CEO of Thorntons Inc. "We want to thank all the men and women overseas, fighting for our freedom, and for all the sacrifices they endure while protecting our country."

    The bicycles and care package supplies were all purchased, assembled and donated by Thorntons, with help from key suppliers including Consumer's Choice, Hershey's and AdvancePierre Foods.

    Following a series of major wildfires this year in Texas, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers in the state are donating $45,000 to help employees of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the fires.

    More than 34,000 acres of land and more than 1,500 homes were consumed by the fires, including 98 percent of Bastrop State Park and 22 homes of Texas Park and Wildlife employees. Many more parks employees sustained significant damage to their properties.

    Anheuser-Busch contributed the first $10,000 and then asked its Texas wholesalers to donate as well. The total gift of $45,000 will go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Employee Relief Fund, established in an effort to help ease the financial burden of those employees affected by the wildfires.

    Anheuser-Busch wholesalers who contributed were Ben E. Keith Co. Distributing in Fort Worth; Brown Distributing in Austin; R & K Distributing in Longview; Falls Distributing in Wichita Falls; Silver Eagle Distributing (Houston and Cypress); Standard Sales Co. in Odessa;Del Papa Distributing Co. in Galveston; Budweiser Distributing Co. in Amarillo; Tri-City Distributing in New Braunfels; Eagle Distributing ofTexarkana; and Wismer Distributing Co. in Baytown. In addition to cash donations, many of the wholesalers also sponsored fundraisers in their respective markets for numerous relief efforts.


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