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NATIONAL REPORT — Giving back through community service efforts and charitable 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 on holiday contributions:
GSP, a retail services provider, got into the holiday spirit by making contributions to several charities on behalf of its customers. Donations were made to: Give Kids The World, United Cerebral Palsy, American Red Cross and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. GSP has been supporting the non-profit Give Kids The World for six years.
The donations were announced to GSP’s clients in its holiday cards with a note of appreciation for their business in 2016.
"We take to heart the season of giving and feel privileged to honor our customers with a gift that can do good. We select the charities that mean the most to our customers," said CEO Geoff Neuhoff. "Together with everyone at GSP companies, we want to thank our customers for another year of growth."
During the season of giving, NOCO Express donated $13,541 to support the Salvation Army Buffalo Area Services. During the month of November, the c-store operator sold paper kettles for $1 each at all its 36 locations throughout the New York region.
"Once again our customers and community showed their generosity to support those in need in Western New York this holiday season," said Jim DeFilippis, vice president and general manager. "In the two years we have conducted this November campaign, more than $26,000 has been donated to our local Salvation Army."
Fresh convenience market chain QuickChek participated in the Check-Out Hunger campaign, an annual fundraiser, for the 26th consecutive year to help feed hungry families during the holiday season. QuickChek’s partnership with Check-Out Hunger extends throughout the year, including the launch of a Check-Out Hunger hot air balloon at the annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank in July.
The campaign benefits more than 30 Feeding America food banks and affiliates from New England to Florida, including the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the Hudson Valley Food Bank and Long Island Cares, which QuickChek supports all year-round.
Customers at each of QuickChek’s 147 c-stores throughout New Jersey, New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island donated $1, $3 and $5 coupons at checkout counters from Nov. 5 to Dec. 17. In 2015, the c-store operator raised $160,000 and in 2014 it raised $125,000 for Check-Out Hunger.
Rutter’s Farm Stores
Pennsylvania c-store operator Rutter’s made a $4,000-donation to four local charities during the ribbon cutting ceremony of its newest store in Strasburg. Each charity received $1,000.
With its donation, the Food Pantry in the First Presbyterian Church of Strasburg provided 80 families with food for Christmas, while the Solanco Food Bank used their contribution for 75 Christmas meal boxes. The remaining two charities were the Strasburg Borough Police Department and the Strasburg Fire Company #1.
This holiday season, Sheetz for the Kidz partnered with the Salvation Army for the 24th year to host Christmas parties for underprivileged children across the Mid-Atlantic. During the months of July and December, proceeds from Sheetz for the Kidz bottled water sales and the annual "Sheetz for the Kidz Golf Classic," as well as other fundraising events, were generated from each of the c-store retailer’s 535 stores to support 16 children from their local communities.
Sheetz employees collected the selected children’s wish lists and volunteered their time to shop, wrap and host the holiday parties. At the holiday parties, Santa greeted children and presented them with new toys, clothes and other basic needs purchased specifically for them. Children and their families enjoyed food, crafts, games and an opportunity to take pictures with Santa.
"We are so grateful for our giving and loyal customers and the assistance from generous partners for helping us make holiday wishes come true for thousands of children in the communities we serve," said Sarah Piper, executive director of Sheetz for the Kidz. "It is very important to Sheetz to give back to the communities that support us as a business, and we are honored to spread some Christmas cheer to local families. This charity was started with the goodwill of two Sheetz employees back in 1992; it's incredible to see its growth and that the charity and the communities have now helped over 100,000 children."
For the third consecutive year, Stewart’s Shops Holiday Match Program set a record, raising more than $1.85 million for local children’s organizations. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Stewart’s customers donated more than $926,000 to the program, a $56,000-increase over last year.
Through the Holiday Match Program, Stewart’s matches each donation. There are no administrative costs and 100-percent of the funds raised benefit local, nonprofit children’s organizations, the company stated.
2016 marked the 19th year that Weigel’s teamed up with the Salvation Army to take 200 local, underprivileged children on a Christmas shopping spree. Every year, the Salvation Army selects deserving children and Weigel’s organizes the event and provides funding. Children range in age from 5 years old to nine years old, and are each given $150 to spend.
Prior to shopping, the volunteers prepare a complimentary breakfast for the children at the Salvation Army gymnasium. Many volunteers stay back to prepare lunch for the children’s return, while other volunteers await at Kmart to meet and help the children manage the money and handpick gifts.
Since the program’s inception in 1998, the Weigel’s and Salvation Army partnership has impacted more than 3,400 children.
"It’s truly amazing to have watched this program grow. We started by bringing six kids shopping, now we invite more than 200 kids," said Bill Weigel, chairman. "This tradition is possible only because of the gracious support of the many volunteers and vendors. This event embodies the true spirit of Christmas."