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CapFed Best News: Fueling Hope fund to help charitable organizations in eastern Kansas

June 21, 2020

By India Yarborough, courtesy of The Topeka Capital Journal

Inspired by a friend’s charitable fund that benefits organizations in that community, the owner of Topeka’s Capital City Oil is on a mission to give back locally.

This year, Capital City Oil partnered with Kansas City-based Fleet Fuels to create “Fueling Hope,” a charitable fund that will be used to donate to organizations helping those in need in eastern Kansas.

According to Marvin Spees, owner of Capital City Oil, his company and Fleet Fuels have been taking some of their net profits this year and funneling that money into the fund.

“I think the main thing is just to be able to give back to the community,” Spees said. “We’ve been blessed. We’ve been here 60 years. ... We want to be active and involved in the communities where we do business.”

Spees expects donations made through the Fueling Hope program to be ongoing. The goal of Capital City Oil and Fleet Fuels, he said, is to donate primarily to faith-based organizations, such as the Topeka Rescue Mission, SENT Topeka and House of Hope Kansas City.

In fact, Spees added, Capital City Oil has already helped donate 39,000 pounds of chicken to House of Hope this year by providing the transportation necessary to get that food to the residential group home.

“Right now, because there are so many people out of work, we kind of hit the food-pantry-type stuff first,” Spees said.

Soon, he hopes to be able to help SENT, which stands for Strengthening and Equipping Neighborhoods Together.

“We’ve made some small donations to them,” Spees said. “When the right opportunity comes along, we’ll probably buy a house and let them fix it up and get it rehabbed.”

Johnathan Sublet, SENT’s founder and chairman of its board of directors, said donations like that are vital to the organization’s operations.

“Donations like what is being proposed here are so crucial,” Sublet said, “because when you look at affordable housing around the country it takes a three-way partnership to make it happen.

“It takes the person who’s going to buy the home. It takes philanthropy. ... And it also comes from government subsidies like tax breaks and things of that nature.”

One of SENT’s main pillars is business development, and the group’s affordable housing initiatives fall into that category. According to Sublet, SENT aims to increase home ownership in Topeka, especially in low-income areas.

“Our overall goal is to transform 15% of the housing in the Hi-Crest community,” Sublet said — a little more than 300 homes.

SENT contracts with construction crews to rehabilitate those houses, and then tries to sell or rent them for reasonable rates.

Philanthropic efforts, like what Spees has proposed, help SENT close the gap between the cost of renovation and a home’s resale price — enabling the nonprofit to keep housing affordable.

“To do that,” Sublet said, “we have to have the right kinds of donations to close those gaps.”