Totaled, the Kash initiative — from Nov. 9 through Dec. 31, 2012 — raised $129,389 in support of JA affiliates in Cleveland and Chattanooga. Some 70 Kangaroo Express convenience stores, operated by The Pantry Inc., participated in North Georgia, Chattanooga and in the Cleveland area.
The Ocoee Region affiliate’s share of the gift tallies $39,240. The local JA, whose president is Tracie McCartney, partners with school systems in Bradley, McMinn, Monroe, Meigs and Polk counties. McCartney was on hand to accept the Kangaroo Express donation at a Chattanooga function earlier this month.
“The store managers, regional managers and the employees at Kangaroo Express are the ones who did all the work,” McCartney said. “They put their force behind JA of the Ocoee Region because they wanted to help our community. It’s their children and grandchildren who are going to local schools where we implement our programs.”
She added, “We are so honored to have Kangaroo Express partner with us. [Their store locations] in Bradley, Polk, Meigs, McMinn and Monroe counties really opened up their hearts earlier this winter. Just as importantly, we are proud to say all of the money raised stays local.”
JA of the Ocoee Region is a well-established nonprofit entity that has operated with Cleveland as its base since 1965. The organization operates with a volunteer board of directors, many of whom serve as unpaid classroom instructors in public school systems. Area companies also make available employees who are willing to donate their time to provide students with relevant instruction in life skills that are not included in standard classroom curriculum.
Classroom volunteers teach using standard JA-prepared training materials which are also purchased by local affiliates using community donations.
“This money goes toward our partnership with area schools to build work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy,” McCartney said. “We are dedicated to getting local children ready for the workforce which is so needed these days in this economy.”
Another Kash for Kids milestone locally came at a Cleveland-based Kangaroo Express located at the corner of Highway 64/Waterlevel Highway and Durkee Road. The local convenience store finished No. 1 among all 70 locations in customer donations to the cause. The Cleveland store picked up more than $8,000 in donations, McCartney reported. Store manager is Jennifer Stepp.
“These were such great results from a community-minded project by Kangaroo Express that we knew, from the get-go, had so much potential,” McCartney said. “We are so thankful to all of the locations within our five-county service area for stepping up for Junior Achievement. And specifically, we want to recognize the wonderful work of Jennifer and her employees at the Highway 64/Waterlevel Highway location. They’re the ones who made it happen.”
Chris Hughes, regional sales director for Kangaroo Express, credited the work of his company’s employees as well as the chain’s diverse customer base.
“From store guests to our dedicated associates, the community’s overwhelming response to supporting the Kash for Kids campaign has truly been inspiring,” Hughes said. “Thanks to their generous support and the hard work of volunteers at Junior Achievement, kids right here in the Cleveland and Chattanooga area will have the opportunity to benefit from real life, hands-on experience and be inspired to dream big and reach their fullest potential.”
The Chattanooga share ($90,149) will support JA programming in Hamilton, Catoosa, Walker, Marion and Sequatchie counties.
“This generous donation will help the Junior Achievement office [in the Ocoee Region] continue to support the personal and intellectual growth of students from kindergarten to 12th grade,” McCartney said. “The impact of this partnership will be seen in the classrooms of local schools where a greater number of students will now benefit from real-world learning.”
Junior Achievement is an international nonprofit organization that empowers young people to own their economic success. In the U.S. alone, JA reaches out to 4 million students in more than 176,000 classrooms. JA focuses on work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills.
The Cleveland and Bradley County school systems are among those in the immediate Southeast Tennessee area that will benefit from JA programming made available through the Kash for Kids initiative.
As of Dec. 11, 2012, The Pantry operated 1,573 Kangaroo Express stores in 13 states under select banners. The Pantry is headquartered in Cary, N.C., and is one of the nation’s largest convenience store chains.