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For some retailers in the convenience store industry, giving back isn?t just something the company does. Rather, it is a part of who they are; an integral link in their DNA.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go LC and Savannah, Ga.-based Enmark Stations Inc., this year?s winners of the Convenience Store News Spirit Awards for Community Outreach, are two such retailers. For them, lending a helping hand is fundamental to their business.
The Spirit Awards program, now in its sixth year, honors convenience retailers that are involved in community service programs aimed at bettering the lives of the people in the markets they serve. Winners are selected based on the scope of giving; the personal involvement of company management and associates; the degree to which shoppers are encouraged to participate; the innovation and creativity of the program(s); and the accomplishments of the program(s).
Kum & Go is this year?s winner of the Grand Spirit Award, the highest honor. This marks the third time the retailer has been a Spirit Award recipient and the second time the chain has been selected the Grand Spirit Award honoree. The first time was in 2011.
Enmark Stations is the winner of the 2014 Spirit Award in the Small Chain category. This operator of 60 stations in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina is a first-time honoree.
Kum & Go?s dedication to being a good corporate citizen is a top priority as the chain steadily expands its reach nationwide. The retailer is always searching for new ways to give back to its communities and shares 10 percent of its profits with charitable causes every year.
In the past year, Kum & Go became the first convenience retailer to partner nationally with Habitat for Humanity. Harnessing the power of its more than 400 stores in 11 states and 4,500 store associates, the company launched a month-long cause marketing campaign, encouraging customers to donate $1 and help decide where Kum & Go would sponsor a Habitat home build. The campaign?s goal was initially set at $100,000 and that was met in just nine days. When all was said and done, the donation to Habitat for Humanity totaled more than $450,000.
In addition, Kum & Go associates spent four days helping to build the Kum & Go-sponsored home in Minot, N.D., and supported local Habitat efforts during volunteer days in Rogers, Ark., Loveland, Colo., and Des Moines, Iowa. In total, Kum & Go associates donated 900-plus volunteer hours to support Habitat for Humanity in 2013.
Last year, Kum & Go was also quick to help when some of its communities were struck by natural disasters. When tornados hit Oklahoma in May 2013, Kum & Go launched a chainwide in-store campaign to give customers the chance to donate to the American Red Cross relief efforts. And when Colorado was hit by wildfires and flooding in the span of only a couple months, Kum & Go made $10,000 and $15,000 donations to support those relief efforts.
Other community service contributions by Kum & Go in the past year include:
- A pledge of $350,000 to support the Des Moines Social Club, a nonprofit venue for all ages that creates community engagement and cultural vibrancy through the arts. This partnership helps stimulate the arts scene in the area while providing a place for local, regional and national artists to be featured. In February, the Social Club put the finishing touches on the Kum & Go Theater, a black box theater that almost always features performances from smaller theater troupes and companies in the area.
- Its 2013 annual giving drive for United Way, which once again maintained 100-percent employee participation. Last year?s effort saw Kum & Go extend its campaign to three Iowa counties, accepting donations for the United Way of Central Iowa for the first time. Prior to launching the customer component of the campaign, Kum & Go and its associates raised $266,000 for the United Way of Central Iowa.
- ?KG Care Days,? in which associates donate $5 to a new charity every month and their donations are matched dollar for dollar by Kum & Go. These KG Care Days help impact various organizations throughout the community.
Along with its parent company Colonial Group Inc., Enmark Stations has supported a number of local organizations this past year, including America?s Second Harvest Food Bank, Salvation Army, Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy, United Way, YMCA, and more.
Its charitable highlights in 2013 included teaming up with radio station BOB 106.9 to collect enough items to fill the storage unit of SAFE Shelter, which provides housing for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. Enmark Stations also started the High School Football Player of the Week award with media partners WJCL and ESPN Radio in an effort to recognize some of the top athletes in southeast Georgia and South Carolina.
Additionally, last year was the first time Enmark Stations participated in the Light The Night Walk campaign for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The retailer was honored with a National Partner Award for its outstanding fundraising support of $65,468 to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin?s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Enmark Stations Vice President and General Manager Houstoun Demere, the third generation of the Demere family to own and operate the company, lost his mother to leukemia at an early age and feels an obligation to help this nonprofit organization.
This year, during the month of May, the chain raised $76,097 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by selling paper balloon icons in all of its retail stores and holding two ?Full-Service Fridays? locally in Savannah. Full-Service Fridays allowed customers to pull into an Enmark store where members of the company?s management team pumped gas, washed windows and handed out car wash coupons in exchange for donations.
Other philanthropic efforts by Enmark Stations this year have included:
- The launch of organic UNFI products in 25 of its larger-format stores, in an effort to offer customers healthy snacking options. Enmark Stations now offer UNFI items such as kale and falafel chips, Tanka buffalo jerky, organic candy, kombucha, organic sodas, and frozen products including ice cream and frozen entrees from Amy?s.
- Presenting sponsorship of the 2014 Encourage Health Educational Series, which took place on the last Tuesday of the months of February, April, June, August and October. This series featured presentations from area experts sharing insights on nutrition, fitness and general tips for healthy living. By matching the proceeds from these lectures, Enmark Stations raised funds for Savannah-area nonprofit organizations that are focused on wellness. The first four lectures resulted in donations of $2,000 to West Broad Street YMCA, $1,000 to the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, and $2,000 to Girls on the Run of Coastal Georgia. The company has already signed on to present the series in 2015.