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    Community Service Spotlight

    Tri-State Petroleum, Hest Technologies and MillerCoors launch efforts to give back.

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Giving back through community service efforts and charity donations is a positive force that keeps many retailers and suppliers of the convenience store 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:

    Tri-State Petroleum Corp.

    This family-owned convenience store operator and wholesale distributor of motor fuels in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania invited residents to make a splash at a special dunk tank fundraising event in Wheeling, W.V., to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

    During the event, held at a company store in Wheeling, customers had the chance to donate $1 to toss a softball at a target that sent volunteers -- including a Tri-State Petroleum executive and several local community members -- splashing into the dunk tank beneath them.

    "From the creation of scholarships, to raising funds for charitable organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, giving to those in need is an important component of Tri-State Petroleum's mission," said Sam Covelli, director of retail operations and one of the brave volunteers.

    All proceeds from the event benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

    Hest Technologies

    Through its patented video sweepstakes retail promotional software and key partnerships with convenience stores across Texas, Hest reached out to tens of thousands of donors, spreading the mission of Skyeward Bound Ranch: to provide social interactive activities for special-needs kids.

    "The sweepstakes promotion has been hugely successful for all parties," said Chris Canard, president of Hest Technologies. "It impacts the convenience store in a very positive financial way; it enables the store's customers to participate in a sweepstakes contest with great prizes, and assists families in need. Everyone wins!"

    The donations raised will help fund special cruises, trips to Disney World and camp activities throughout Texas for families and their children living with Autism and terminal illnesses.

    Through its successful partnership with Hest, Skyeward Bound Ranch is spreading its focus outside of Texas to work on a national level with organizations such as Autism on the Seas. These new programs will offer financial assistance to families in nearby states who wish to participate in social activities, but cannot otherwise afford it.

    So far, money raised through the Skyeward Bound Ranch Sweepstakes have sent more than 100 families in Texas on dream vacations. In addition, hundreds more have participated in the interactive camp activities funded by the sweepstakes.

    Hest Technologies, founded in 1997, develops video sweepstakes promotional systems for retail businesses. Hest's video sweepstakes software is authorized in several states to conduct video sweepstakes promotions in conjunction with the sale of retail products.

    MillerCoors

    The brewing company recently celebrated minority business growth by declaring Aug. 1 through Aug. 5 "National Urban Entrepreneurs Week" and launching a call-for-entries for the annual MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs Series (MUES) and Business Plan Competition.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minority-owned businesses have increased nearly 50 percent since 2000, twice the rate of all U.S. businesses. More significantly, urban entrepreneurs, who now employ some 5.9 million workers, are leading the way in job creation and helping to rebuild the economy.

    Now in its 12th year, the MUES program provides small business owners the unique opportunity to compete for a total of $150,000 in business grants.

    "At MillerCoors, we know that businesses are needed to build great communities. We want to do our part to empower small business development, which is helping to drive our economy by creating more employment opportunities," said Larry Waters, vice president of multicultural relations for MillerCoors. "The MUES program is a viable resource for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. Through this competition, entrepreneurs compete for much-needed capital to fuel and grow their businesses."

    MillerCoors has awarded more than $1.7 million to small businesses since the program's creation in 1999. This year's top winner will be awarded a $50,000 grant and four other top finalists will each receive $25,000 grants. Competitors also have the opportunity to become a potential qualified MillerCoors supplier.

    The MUES competition is open to participants who are age 21 and older. All entries must be submitted to www.MillerCoorsMUES.com by Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 at noon CST.

    Several business organizations support the MUES program, including the Atlanta Business League; Chicago Urban League; Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Dallas; United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and additional local chambers and chapters of the Urban League.

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