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NEW YORK -- Stripes, the retail arm of Corpus Christi, Texas-based Susser Holdings, was named the winner of the Grand Spirit Award for Community Outreach, a new retail industry award program launched by Convenience Store News this year.
The CSNews Spirit Awards for Community Outreach program celebrates convenience store retailers that are involved in community service programs aimed at bettering the lives of people in the markets they serve. Along with Stripes, these c-store chains also were named Spirit Award Winners in their specific categories:
-- For companies with one to 99 c-stores: Rutter’s
-- For companies with 100-499 c-stores: Pilot Travel Centers
-- For companies with 500-plus c-stores: Speedway SuperAmerica
All the winners will be honored in a special awards event in Houston on Nov. 4.
"We were absolutely blown away by the quantity and quality of entries we received in this, our inaugural, Spirit Awards program," said Don Longo, editor-in-chief of CSNews, and editorial director of Nielsen Business Media’s food group. "Convenience stores are the local, neighborhood store for many communities throughout America. These winning retailers illustrate the many ways that c-stores give back to the communities they serve."
The judges were extremely impressed with the depth and breath of Stripes’ community service activities. Although the company supported many different types of community involvement, the focus of the giving centered on a specific purpose: improving the health and wellness of children in the communities Stripes’ serves.
Whether working with its national vendors to raise funds for large-scale community impact, or joining with team members and customers for in-store fundraising, Stripes activities were marked by enthusiasm and creativity. And, those activities were not just defined by the scope of the company’s financial giving, but also by the personal participation of the entire Stripes family—from CEO Sam Susser to store associates.
The primary focus of Rutter’s charitable giving is also centered around children. Through Rutter’s Children’s Charities, toys were provided for needy children at Christmas, donations were raised to help build a day care and educational center, videoconferencing equipment was purchased to allow local soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in the births of their children, and many more programs were made possible in the six central Pennsylvania counties where Rutter’s operates.
Like Stripes, Rutter’s management also leads by example. Scott Hartman, president, and Todd Rutter, president of Rutter’s Dairy, serve on several charitable boards and volunteer their own time for a variety of children’s causes.
As a national leader in the travel center and convenience store industry, Pilot’s corporate citizenship begins in its headquarters city, Knoxville, Tenn., and stretches across the United States.
In its hometown, Pilot employees log about 2,000 volunteer hours each year, doing things like building homes for Habitat for Humanity, delivering meals to homebound seniors through Mobile Meals, supporting Junior Achievement by volunteering in local classrooms to teach children about free enterprise and mentoring with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Nationwide, Pilot’s Truckers for Tots campaign provides the opportunity for professional drivers and other customers to donate to Toys for Tots.
The scope of giving by Enon, Ohio-based Speedway SuperAmerica (SSA) is huge. The retailer has been a sponsor of the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) since 1992, donating more than $27 million over that time span. In 2008, SSA contributed $3 million to CMN—an all time high for SSA and making the retailer one of the top 10 U.S. sponsors of the charity. Company executives including Vice President of Operations Dave Heppner and Vice President of Marketing Glenn Plumby are personally involved in the CMN efforts as well, and the retailer’s more than 19,000 employees are also passionate about raising money for CMN.
One of the most successful fundraising initiatives has been to offer monthly incentive contests for associates. The first such contest, Ride the Miracle Trail, was conducted in April 2008 and featured a 2007 Honda Fourtrax ATV as the grand prize (MSRP $3,699).
SSA’s charitable efforts contributed to such outcomes as:
-- A room in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich., was dedicated to SSA in January 2008.
-- In March 2009, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland dedicated a room in their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to SSA, which also donated a Speedy Freeze machine to the Dayton Children’s Hospital.
-- SSA is currently in the midst of a five-year, $1.6 million fundraising commitment to Riley Children’s Foundation to support a new Pediatric Burn Unit at Riley Hospital.