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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 highlights these philanthropic efforts in this special section.
Here are the latest company spotlights:
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), in conjunction with New Balance, is helping wounded service members take a step forward in their recovery process with free athletic shoes through the Wounded Care program.
Since 2007, the Exchange and New Balance have provided complimentary footwear to service members who have been injured in action. More than 400 free pairs of shoes have been provided to wounded warriors this year alone.
BP presented $1 million in funding for the School of Energy project at San Juan College in New Mexico. An official ground-breaking ceremony for the projected 52,553-square-foot building is planned for this month. The project schedule calls for construction to begin by February 2014 with a completion date of April 2015.
Through Oct. 31, Corner Store employees will ask customers to purchase $1 or $5 Miracle Balloon icons to raise funds for 32 Children's Miracle Network hospitals. The icons include a coupon for savings on goods in the stores, providing customers an extra incentive to make the $1 or $5 donation.
In addition to the Miracle Balloons, customers will have an opportunity to purchase a "Glow for Kids" glow-in-the-dark bracelet for $1, or donate their spare change.
Last year, Corner Store raised a record $2.35 million to benefit local kids. Owned by CST Brands Inc., the chain has been a partner of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals since 1995, raising funds totaling more than $16.9 million for children's hospitals through multiple campaigns.
Cumberland Farms Inc.
For the eighth consecutive year, applications are being accepted from bright and ambitious high school seniors across Cumberland Farms' 11-state service area for the company's Believe and Achieve Scholarship Program. Since the program began in 2006, it has awarded scholarships to hundreds of college-bound high school students.
The program provides $1,000 scholarships to eligible graduating high school seniors across the Cumberland Farms service area. It is open to students entering a full-time undergraduate course of study at an accredited college, university or vocational-technical school in the fall of 2014 who live within 30 miles of any Cumberland Farms outlet.
Scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, as well as the student's financial need. Winners will be notified in the spring.
Hess donated $10,000 to the United Way of Guernsey and Noble Counties in Ohio. The donation represented almost five percent of the agency's overall 2013 campaign goal. Hess also sponsored the United Way Kickoff Breakfast, held in August.
Valero Energy Corp.
The Valero Texas Open recently distributed $1.6 million to more than 130 local charities and schools, which was raised through Birdies for Charity and Chip In for Schools, two of its primary fundraising initiatives. An additional $164,000 was distributed to the various organizations from incentive dollars funded by the Valero Texas Open.
Birdies for Charity, in which more than 100 nonprofits solicited pledges for every birdie made during the Valero Texas Open tournament held in April, raised more than $1.4 million. Chip In for Schools, which provided more than 24 student groups, sports teams and other school-related organizations with discounted tickets to sell, raised nearly $40,000.
Overall, the Valero Texas Open and the Valero Benefit for Children Golf Classic raised $10 million this year, topping the previous record of $9 million in 2011 and 2012.