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    The Pantry's Hurricane Relief Aid Tops $700,000

    Company gives bonuses, donates funds and establishes grants for schools.

    SANFORD, N.C.--As victims and areas affected by Hurricane Katrina continue to rebuild, The Pantry Inc. announced the total of incremental wages paid, bonuses, matching contributions and a newly established Hurricane Relief Fund amounts to more than $700,000.

    "Our objective was to provide the most meaningful, targeted support we could to our people and their communities as they work to recover from this truly devastating natural disaster," said Peter J. Sodini, president and CEO. "The immediate response was focused on direct financial support for affected employees, in part to reward the extraordinary efforts many of them made to keep our stores operating or to get them back in business."

    The Sanford, N.C.-based company's support included the following: all store employees displaced by Hurricane Katrina who did not or could not report for work were paid full wages and benefits for the first two weeks following the storm; all store employees in the affected areas who reported to work were paid double-time wages for the first two weeks. The company paid "above and beyond" bonuses to many of its salaried store and field personnel, who put in long hours and overcame numerous challenges in getting stores resupplied, repaired and reopened. Special "hardship" bonuses were provided to employees that were personally affected by damage to their homes and other belongings. The Pantry also offered to match employee donations to the American Red Cross.

    In addition, The Pantry established a Hurricane Relief Fund to provide more targeted donations to communities in which it operates. The first grant of $100,000 was recently made to the Mississippi School Board Association and will be distributed to schools through the Mississippi Hurricane Katrina School Relief Fund for use as they see fit. They also plan to adopt selected schools as they reopen.

    "We operate 53 Kangaroo Express, Big K and Fast Lane convenience stores across central and southern Mississippi, and have a large stake in the ultimate success of the recovery efforts -- especially in the schools, where the future of this country lies," Sodini said. "The schools know best what they need, so we want them to set the priorities, whether it is computers, books or other instructional materials. We also have successfully participated in a number of Adopt-A-School programs in other states, and look forward to providing similar assistance to help some of Mississippi's schools get back to a sense of normalcy."

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