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    Veterans Day Is Time for Thanks at C-stores

    Free meals and beverages are ways retailers show appreciation.

    NATIONAL REPORT — On the 11th day of the 11th month, the country honors members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Convenience stores are no different.

    In honor of Veterans Day this year, Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. kicked off Operation: Take Command, the company's first franchise giveaway contest.

    The winner will receive a waiver of the franchise fee, valued at up to $190,000, to franchise any of the company's convenience stores available in the continental United States as of the contest's culmination. Interested veterans who are first-time 7-Eleven franchise applicants can enter online at www.VeteransFranchiseGiveaway.com through Jan. 25. The winner will be announced in April.

    The Operation: Take Command franchise giveaway is a multiphased competition that includes meeting 7-Eleven's franchising qualifications, interviews, a Facebook video contest by 10 preliminary finalists and an interview with 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto for the three finalists. The competition is for first-time prospective franchisees, those veterans who do not already franchise a 7-Eleven store.

    "I can think of no one more deserving of this extraordinary opportunity to win a 7-Eleven franchise than one of our military veterans who has given so much for our country," said DePinto, a graduate of the Military Academy at West Point and a former U.S. Army officer. "7-Eleven is a winner, too, because veterans bring top-notch leadership skills, a can-do attitude and mission-oriented focus to their business. Our experience has shown that U.S. veterans have the desire, ambition and core values needed to be successful 7-Eleven franchisees."

    Another Texas-based convenience store chain, Stripes Convenience Stores, is celebrating Veterans Day by asking its Facebook fans to post a picture of themselves or a loved one in uniform. The retailer will then randomly select one winner from these Facebook Veterans Day posts to win a $50 Stripes gift card.

    Pennsylvania-based chains Rutter's Farm Stores and Sheetz Inc. are also doing their part to honor veterans. York-based Rutter's is offering free coffee to any member of the military, active or retired, who present a valid military identification at its convenience stores. Altoona-based Sheetz is serving free lunch to active and veteran military service members as its way of saying thank you.

    In the Midwest, Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip Corp. is offering any size of self-serve drink to all former and current military members in recognition of their service.

    Other ways convenience store retailers nationwide are commemorating Veterans Day include: 

    • Service members across the Southeast can receive any grill item for 25 cents, one per guest, while supplies last at Kangaroo Express' nearly 1,200 grill-ready stores. 
    • Truck drivers who are also veterans of the U.S. Armed Services can receive a complimentary meal at any participating TA or Petro sit-down restaurant across the United States.
    • All veterans, active military members and their families can receive a free cup of coffee, any size, at Wawa stores. The convenience store chain expects to hand out more than 200,000 free cups.
    • Pilot Flying J is donating 10 percent of its proceeds from coffee and hot beverage sales on Veterans Day to the Fisher House Foundation, which is best known for its network of comfort homes where military and veterans' families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment and specialized medical care.

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