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PORTSMOUTH, N.H., NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark., SUMTER, S.C., CHICAGO, LOUISVILLE, Ky. and HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Giving back through community service efforts and charity donations is a positive force that keeps many retailers and suppliers of this industry moving ahead. Each week, Convenience Store News will highlight these philanthropic efforts in this special section. Here are the latest company spotlights:
Irving Oil -- In honor of Special Olympics, Irving Oil is bringing back its biggest U.S. fundraiser to New England. Irving's Fueling Dreams fundraiser began in 1999 to benefit the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the largest fundraiser worldwide for the Special Olympics. Since then, the event has grown across all six New England states and raised over $2 million.
July 23 was designated as "To Serve and Protect Day," where Special Olympics athletes, coaches and law enforcement officers worked alongside Irving and Circle K employees to pump gas, wash windows and greet customers at local Irving Service Stations and Travel Plazas throughout New England.
"The continued support of Irving stations and Circle K stores gives the 28,000 Special Olympics athletes across New England an opportunity to achieve their dreams," said Mary Conroy, president of Special Olympics New Hampshire. "Irving is a great corporate friend that makes a significant impact in what we are able to accomplish."
Until August 2, the public can also support Special Olympics by purchasing special car window clings for $1 at Irving Service Stations, Travel Plazas and Circle K locations in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In addition, Irving Oil Marketing will make a direct donation.
"Fueling Dreams couldn't be a more rewarding partnership for Irving," said Harry Hadiaris, general manager of Irving Oil. "Each year, more Irving stations and Circle K locations join in to help thousands of athletes achieve their dreams."
Coulson Oil -- In June, the company was the presenting sponsor of the CARTI (Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute) Tour de Rock, an annual event for cycling enthusiasts. Early projections put fundraising totals for this year's Tour de Rock at more than $125,000.
This marked the fourth year that Coulson Oil has been a sponsor of the event, which first began in 2004. It consists of two parts: a 10-mile Family Fun Ride and an advanced ride featuring course options of 30, 50, 62 and 100 miles. Approximately 1,100 people participate in the event, coming from states as far away as Colorado and Virginia.
"We always enjoy being a part of the Tour de Rock," said David Zakrzewski, Coulson Oil Company president. "CARTI plays a vital role in the healthcare of the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region, and we salute them for the great work they do."
Coulson Oil teamed up with Shell, one of the fuel brands the company represents, as part of its sponsorship. At the event, the company set up a rest stop for riders who need to take a break. Known as the "Coulson Oil Luau Rest Stop," it includes a tropical theme, complete with a cool-water misting tent. The company provides food and beverages for participants, with a menu of items such as pork, beef, chicken and a variety of fruits.
In addition to staffing the rest stop, many of the Coulson Oil team participates in the race, including Mike Coulson, the company's chairman of the board. It was his love of cycling that first spearheaded their involvement.
"Coulson Oil has been a long-time supporter and friend of CARTI, and their partnership in the Tour de Rock has helped it grow to new heights," said Kathi Jones, CARTI Foundation president. "Their sponsorship has been instrumental in the Tour de Rock becoming a nationally-recognized cycling event."
VPS Convenience Store Group -- This operator of Sumter, S.C.'s Young's Food Stores, presented a $12,500 grant on Wednesday to the Tuomey Foundation through the BP Fueling Communities Program. Young's Food Stores and BP partnered together to demonstrate their shared commitment to the health of the Sumter-Shaw area.
As a BP fuel provider, Young's was able to nominate an organization that focuses on health, education, youth, food or housing. Tuomey Foundation, established in 1995, was chosen as the recipient of this grant because it serves to enhance patient care within the Tuomey Healthcare System, extend the hospital's reach into the community and help those in the community regardless of their ability to pay.
Fueling Communities provides grants to local organizations that are nominated by BP Branded Fuel Marketers to support the communities in which they do business. There are seven Young's fueling locations that are branded BP in Sumter.
RWJ Management Co. -- This owner and operator of BP ampm convenience stores and gasoline stations in the Chicago area has joined together with its employees to support breast cancer research.
The company just finished a three-month fundraising program to support the efforts of Tammy Albor, a manager at an RWJ-owned ampmlocated in Crestwood, Ill. Albor's mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
"We are proud to support this worthwhile cause and contribute $7500 because this terrible disease affects every one of us or our families at some point" said Deborah Cox, RWJ operations manager, in a press release.
"We hope that this small effort made by RWJ Management Companies, its employees and customers will aid in the search for a cure for breast cancer," stated Robert W. Juckniess, president of RWJ Management Companies, Inc.
One of the local BP jobbers, Parent Petroleum, also joined with RWJ in this cause.
Thorntons -- This is the fifth year the company partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation; since 2008 it has raised over $50,000 for this cause. This year, it raised over $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, Kentucky Region. During the month of May, all Thorntons store locations sold Wish Stars for $1, with 100 percent of the proceeds going back to the foundation.
"We are very proud to partner with such a great organization as the Make-A-Wish Foundation," said Matt Thornton, president and CEO of Thorntons. "We have seen an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers in regards to this program."
"We are so grateful for the support we have received from Thorntons and their customers," shared Susan McConnell, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana president and CEO. "Since 2008, their generous customers have rallied around our mission and have enabled us to bring joy to so many seriously-ill children and their families."
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Founded in 1983, the Make-A-Wish
Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana chapter is the largest of the 64 Make-A-Wish chapters in the country in both territory and wishes granted.
Mars Chocolate North America -- The chocolate company's Snickers Brand is continuing its partnership with Feeding America to help "Bar Hunger." Through the Bar Hunger campaign, Snickers will help provide the equivalent of up to three-and-a-half million meals to the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization, as well as educate and empower Americans to join the effort.
To shine a spotlight on hunger in America, Snickers has enlisted comedian Jim Gaffigan to champion the cause. As part of his efforts to Bar Hunger, Gaffigan will put his sense of humor on hold and go joke-free through the weekend to put the issue of domestic hunger on center stage.
"Over the years, I've made jokes about eating and food," said Gaffigan. "But the fact that 50 million Americans -- or one in six of our neighbors -- don't always know where their next meal might come from is not funny, it's truly sad."
"Hunger continues to be a real and growing problem in America," explained Debra A. Sandler, chief consumer officer at Mars Chocolate North America. "In all likelihood, we personally know someone affected by hunger and aren't aware that they have a problem. We hope this campaign can make a real difference in raising awareness and helping provide the resources for Feeding America to support those in need."
Americans can help "Bar Hunger" by texting the code from specially marked Snickers bars to 45495 or entering the code at SNICKERS.com. For every code texted or entered through October 23, 2011, Snickers will help provide two meals to Feeding America.