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Yogi’s ‘spirit pumps’ bring money to female athletics

Mark “Yogi” Welborn said when he first opened his Yogi’s Food Co. locations, he knew he wanted to help the community by promoting education.

This month Yogi’s will end a three-month spirit pump effort to raise money for female athletics.

“We like to be involved in schools and in the community,” Welborn said. “These communities do so much for us, so we want to make sure we drive our charitable donations toward them.”

Through the spirit pumps, for a limited time, a penny per gallon is donated from Yogi’s, with Citgo matching it, to go toward female athletics.

“We wanted to make sure we were giving money to sports that might not get as much recognition or funding,” Welborn said.

The money from the Yogi’s in Spruce Pine will go to Phil Campbell High School volleyball and cheerleaders, and the money for the Russellville Yogi’s will go to Russellville High School softball and cheerleading.

Welborn said at the end of the three-month period, ending in May, he will write a check for $1,000 to each school, regardless of whether the amount raised exceeded or fell below the $1,000 mark.

“It has really been a big hit for us because I think a lot of people enjoy knowing they are helping out with their purchase,” Welborn said.

Welborn said the idea came from a visit to a college town where a local gas station was offering a similar special to raise money for the college.

“I figured if they could do that, then we could too,” he said.

Welborn said he is also thinking of possibilities for his newest Yogi’s Food Co. when it opens, located at the intersection of Lawrence Street and Highway 24.

“I am planning on putting that toward the arts in schools,” Welborn said. “Whether it is band or art or theater, it is so important to support these different avenues for students.”