ABINGDON, Va. -- NASCAR racing and community service, longtime interests of K-VA-T Stores here, will become even more closely linked next month, when K-VA-T, operator of 86 Food City supermarkets in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, launches its "Race Against Hunger" promotion.
Explained Steve Smith, K-Va-T's president and chief executive officer, "What we're going to do is tie in our relationship with NASCAR racing and partner with the Miller Brewing Co. and Rusty Wallace, who's their driver, and with Georgia Pacific and Kyle Petty, who's their driver, to raise funds for Food for All and for the food banks they support in our area."
From Nov. 9 through Jan. 3, Food City customers can fight hunger and win a chance to meet NASCAR drivers Rusty Wallace and Kyle Petty.
During the promotion, all Food City stores will sell scannable contribution strips at checkstands. For every dollar customers give by purchasing contribution slips with their Food City ValuCards, they will be entered into a sweepstakes to win an invitation to a March 24 reception with Wallace and Petty at the Meadowview Convention Center in Kingsport, Tenn., a part of the festivities surrounding the Food City 500, an annual race sponsored by the supermarket chain.
Twenty-five winners will receive two tickets each to the reception, where they may meet the drivers, have their pictures taken with them, and get autographs.
Smith said, "We're taking an event that is huge in our area and trying to leverage that to help folks that need the help by using Food for All, which we think is a really good group."
Smith added that expects the event to succeed. "We don't have any idea of how this will go over, but we think it will go over very well. We hope to raise at least $100,000 for Food for All. We've got an eight-week period of time to do it."
Along with in-store promotion (including collection canisters, counter cards and signs), the fund-raising drive will be touted in advertisements in Food City's weekly circulars.
There is also an incentive for in-store personnel to boost the event. The store manager in each district with the highest contributions, as a percentage of overall store sales, will receive an invitation to the reception -- so will the district manager with the highest district contributions as a percentage of overall sales.
Food City's connection to NASCAR dates back to 1987, when NASCAR legend Junior Bonner appeared at a special in-store promotional event at a Food City in Kingsport.
That connection has only deepened over the years. Food City's NASCAR involvement has included sponsorships of races, associate sponsorships of drivers and teams, and events centered around the world of racing.
For example, in 1988, the company launched Food City Family Race Nights, which originally featured NASCAR drivers signing autographs in-store while show cars were displayed in the parking lot. These events became so popular that by 1992, they could no longer be held in stores. The events, which ultimately were moved to convention centers and outdoor venues, have drawn as many as 45,000 racing fans on a single day.
Also since 1988, Food City has been sponsoring NASCAR drivers, including such stars as Dale Earnhardt. What's more, since 1992, Food City has been the title sponsor of two annual races, the NASCAR Winston Cup Food City 500 and the NASCAR Busch Series Food City 250.
The connection between charity and stock-car racing also has a long history for Food City. Through the company's involvement with NASCAR over the years, more than $280,000 has been contributed to various charitable organizations.
It's good for us. It's good for our area. Now, we're going to try to put that to another charitable use because food banks are something that can always use the help."