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    Retailers Donate to make Futures Brighter

    Petro Stopping Centers serve up USO donations, while ExxonMobil employees donate $33 million to higher education.

    ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nationwide travel plaza chain Petro Stopping Centers and the United Service Organizations (USO) recently partnered for two fundraising initiatives, one involving a chicken fried steak dinner. Petro will donate $1 each time that meal is served at any of its 54 Iron Skillet Restaurants, which are also selling $1 window decals with the USO logo.

    "We want to continue to do well for the community and support our troops in Iraq," Petro president Jim Cardwell said in a written statement from USO.

    Proceeds will support USO programs and services for military personnel and their families.

    USO president and CEO Edward A. Powell shared Cardwell's enthusiasm for the project, saying Petro's support would help USO in making a difference in service members' lives.

    The chicken fried steak, a signature item at Iron Skillet, is priced at $8.99 at most locations.

    Meanwhile, the ExxonMobil Foundation's 2006 Educational Matching Program donated more than $33 million to 953 institutions of higher education in the U.S. through gifts by employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors.

    More than 9,300 individual contributions totaling $9 million were made by past and present ExxonMobil personnel. Those donations were matched by the company on a 3-to-1 basis, allowing more than $24 million in unrestricted educational grants to be given to colleges and universities in the nation. The company is encouraging that a portion of the funds go to improve math and science programs at the schools, due to the need for strong education in those areas.

    Since the foundation was initiated in 1962, the program has provided more than $347 million to higher education in the United States. The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the ExxonMobil Corp.

    "The success of ExxonMobil's Educational Matching Gift Program is a testament to our employees' and retirees' deep commitment to education," Kenneth P. Cohen, vice president for public affairs, ExxonMobil Corp., and chairman, ExxonMobil Foundation, said in a written statement. "By supporting institutions of higher education, we are investing in the development of new technologies, future leaders, social progress and economic advancement."

    Through the Educational Matching Gift Program, individual donors can contribute up to $7,500 a year to the colleges and universities where they are affiliated. The affiliation requirement is waived for gifts to the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the American Indian College Fund.

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