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    Orion Steps Up

    Foodservice company raises more than $1 million for charitable causes.


    In the last five years Orion Food Systems Inc., along with partnering corporations and individuals, have raised over $1 million dollars for both industry and charitable causes.

    This year marks the fifth year anniversary for both the Orion Challenge and National Association of Convenience Stores Political Action Committee (NACSPAC) Championship Fundraisers -- golf events that were created to give participants an opportunity to support those in need and the political needs of the convenience store industry.

    The Orion Challenge is an annual charity golf tournament that benefits the Children's Home Society, which provides a home, school and therapy for children with emotional and behavioral problems, as well as those who are victims of abuse. The Orion Challenge which teams up Senior PGA celebrities, corporations and individuals raised more than $150,000 this year and more than $700,000 since it teed off in 1996.

    The NACSPAC Golf fundraiser consists of four regional tournaments and concludes with The Jim Yates Memorial golf championship held annually the NACS Show. Yates, the former CEO of Texarkana, Texas-based E-Z Mart Stores Inc., NACS president and NACSPAC chairman, worked with Orion to create the event. The gathering gives retailers and suppliers an opportunity to congregate in a relaxed setting to network, exchange ideas and play golf. It also allows the participants the opportunity to support the convenience store industry's on-going battles on Capitol Hill, which involve taxes, ergonomics, depreciation and the Food and Drug Administration's regulation of tobacco. The more than $350,000 raised at NACSPAC golf events this year has made the golf championships the number-one political fund-raiser for soft money, which are contributions not directed to a specific candidate or campaign.

    Orion's president Jeff Okerlund, who said the political win-loss record of the convenience store industry directly impacts suppliers' bottom line profits, said the fund-raisers could only be carried out with the financial support of corporations and individuals who have joined the efforts.

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