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    Making it Personal

    Giving back results in lasting connections for many retailers.

    Community service in any form is commendable, and within the convenience industry, there is no shortage of companies that deserve to be lauded. Whether it's hosting a food drive for needy families, donating funds to build a new community center, or sponsoring a local 5K to support cancer research, c-store retailers know a lot about generosity.

    In this special report, Convenience Store News highlights six companies going far beyond dollars and cents to make a difference in the communities they serve. For these operators, giving back doesn't mean writing a check. It's about making lasting connections.

    For the past two years, Atlas Oil Co., through its charitable arm Atlas Cares, hosted a holiday party for local U.S. Marines. This year's event brought together more than 250 Marines, 100 family members and 100 volunteers for an evening of holiday cheer that included food, music, decorations, gifts from Santa, prize raffles and more. To read more on Atlas' efforts, click here.

    Sheetz Inc. helps U.S. Army and Army Reserve soldiers secure job opportunities once their military service is over by participating in the National Partnership for Youth Success. The program connects soldiers with potential employers before their military careers begin and offers them preferred employment status when they return home. To read more on Sheetz' efforts, click here.

    Hess Corp. gets store employees and customers involved in raising funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital -- just one part of its focus on social responsibility. The amount raised each year has more than doubled over the last three years to $225,000 in 2008. To read more on Hess' efforts, click here.

    Country Fair sends its employee-manned "Weenie Wagon" to area high school football games, stocked with such local favorites as Smith's hot dogs, Swiss Premium iced tea, Country Fair fundraiser coupon books, and coupons for a free Erie Times newspaper -- all bundled in a meal deal for $5. Proceeds go to the home team's booster club, with more than $4,000 raised for Erie County high schools last fall. To read more on Country Fair's efforts, click here.

    Chevron continues to expand its support of breast cancer awareness and this year, developed an educational campaign called "Esta en Tus Manos" ("It's in Your Hands"), aimed at informing Hispanic women about breast cancer risks and prevention. Chevron recently distributed educational materials from bright pink kiosks in several stores. To read more on Chevron's efforts, click here.

    Now in its sixth year, Stop'nGo Medina's Mitten Turkey program, named after the turkeys that decorate each store display, encourages customers to bring mittens to the stores prior to the week of Thanksgiving so they can be donated to organizations that help families in need. This year, 3,800 pairs of mittens, gloves and hats were donated. To read more on Stop'nGo's efforts, click here.

    By going out in their communities and making it personal, these retailers find the impact of their efforts is far stronger, and so are the business benefits they see in return.

    Atlas Oil President Sam Simon summed it up best when he said, "You can see it in a person's eyes or a kid's smile when you go directly to help people. This has a huge impact. Otherwise, you are just giving money away."

    Read the full stories on each companies' efforts by clicking a link below:

    Atlas Oil's Marine Holiday

    With Sheetz, it Pays to Be a Soldier

    Hess' Personal Way

    Chevron's Charity Trinity

    Country Fair Taps into School Spirit

    Stop'nGo: Small Chain, Very Big Heart

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