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    Valero Raises Record $1.3M for Children's Miracle Network

    Meanwhile, the company further cuts its gasoline output due to poor margins.

    SAN ANTONIO -- Thanks to the generosity of its customers and employees, Valero’s Corner Store convenience chain raised a record $1.39 million—an 18 percent increase from last year’s fundraising efforts—for the Children’s Miracle Network.

    In a presentation at Valero headquarters, company representatives handed a check for the full amount to the charity’s official ambassador, Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund. Since Valero Corner Stores began raising money for the organization in 1995, it has contributed more than $9.25 million through direct contributions and funds raised by customers and associates across eight states, the company stated.

    "I couldn’t be more proud of the work our Corner Store employees have done for Children’s Miracle Network this year," Gary Arthur, Valero Retail president, said in a statement. "We are also grateful for the generosity of our customers. We view this effort as a team—the customers, our Corner Store associates and the Children’s Miracle Network. All of us working together to support children’s hospitals across the country."

    Valero raised the money by selling paper "Miracle Balloons" at its Corner Stores for $1. The money is shared by Children’s Miracle Network-designated hospitals in the areas where Valero retail operations are located.

    "Valero’s increase of 18 percent over 2007 shows not only dedication, but a recognition that during these economic difficulties there is a great need for every person, in every community, to reach out and help those around them," Scott Burt, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network, said in a statement. "Valero Corner Stores continue to help make miracles happen for children in communities throughout the country. We are truly grateful for their endless service to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals."

    In other company news, Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. refiner, reported earlier this week it was furthering gasoline production cuts at its refineries until weak margins on the fuel recover, Reuters reported.

    "Systemwide, we will run our fluid catalytic cracking (FCCs) units at 70 to 75 percent of capacity in December due to the weak gasoline margins," Valero spokesman Bill Day told Reuters.

    Early this month, Valero's CEO Bill Klesse said the company was running the gasoline-making FCCs in its refining system at the mid-80 percent capacity, adding poor profit margins and demand for gasoline has forced it to keep runs low, according to the report.

    At least two other refiners have undertaken similar moves. In October, Sunoco Inc. shut a gasoline-making reformer unit at its 340,000-barrel per day Philadelphia refinery, while Marathon Oil Corp. said in December it cut back production at some of its refineries also due to poor margins, the report stated.

    While gasoline demand has continually fallen in recent weeks, margins on the fuel have improved recently, according to the report.

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