Foster Fuels Has Been Spreading Warmth for Over 100 Years

by | Feb 2024

IN 1919, WWI Veteran L.H. Foster began delivering flour, ice, and five-gallon cans of lamp oil using an ox-drawn cart to provide for the needs of his neighbors. Over 100 years later, his business, now known as Foster Fuels, continues looking out for its neighbors as a staple in the community. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Foster Fuels delivered emergency propane to the Northeast. Over the years, the company has faithfully supplied fuel to Haiti, Puerto Rico, and areas in the States following devastating hurricanes. 

From that humble ox-cart to a leader in the fuel industry, the company provides propane, heating oil, diesel, and gasoline to residential, commercial, agricultural, and government contractors. Through their Foster Foundation, Foster Fuels sponsors local sports leagues, participates in events, and helps raise awareness of charitable organizations within the community, such as Children’s Miracle Network. The company also provides funding that gives at-risk youth a camping experience through Camp New Joy and their newest summer camp, the Thomas Road Outpost. 

“Foster Foundation is the philanthropic arm of outreach contributing to the communities where we live and work,” said Jennnifer Bryant- Foster. “The Foster Foundation is involved in advocacy efforts with an emphasis on education, women and families, veterans, and the arts. Over the last three years, the foundation has raised over $150,000 for the Mustaches 4 Kids fundraiser.”

During the blustery winter months of 2019, Bryant-Foster visited a local school, and her heart ached at the number of children she saw without warm coats. Like previous charitable-minded Fosters, she jumped into action and began texting friends and family, pleading for donations of their gently used coats. When Bryant-Foster returned home that evening, she was astonished — and pleasantly pleased — to find at least 20 coats on her front porch. By the end of that year, she had collected, freshly laundered, and donated over 400 coats through her “Spread the Warmth” campaign.

“That sparked an effort that’s evolved into a heartwarming success story of what’s become a full-fledged annual operation at the Foster Fuels Foundation,” said Bryant-Foster. 

“The foundation offices now boast a bank of commercial washers and dryers, showcasing Fosters’ commitment to making a difference in the lives of those in need. Collection containers made their way into all Foster Fuels showrooms and to local community business partners. In 2020, a COVID-19 year, the foundation collected over 900 coats. In 2022, this campaign achieved a significant milestone by donating over 3,500 coats to school students and local community foundations impacting adults and families facing cold weather hardships. These warm coats create confidence, comfort, and safety from the elements for countless people in communities served by Foster Fuels.”

According to Foster Fuels, the recipients from their most recent Spread the Warmth initiative included 31 schools and 21 separate charities. Since the community has so graciously rallied around its mission, Foster Fuels has increased its annual goal to 5,000 coats and believes that with the community’s help, its collection boxes will overflow year after year. 

Foster Fuels provides collection boxes at their facilities year-round, and from October through January, dozens of businesses become drop-off points, providing more convenient access for everyone in the community. 

“We are so fortunate to have such incredible partners that support our annual drive to give coats back to those in need. To see the confidence and smiles on children’s faces as they are wearing the comfort, safety, and warmth of a coat is something many of us take for granted. Witnessing these children out in the fresh air, playing with peers, is our biggest reward. We can all make a difference in someone else’s life. Simple acts sometimes mean more than acts of grandeur. Every single person who puts a coat in one of our collection boxes is making a big difference in someone else’s life.” 

Bryant-Foster said that Foster Fuels is proud to be a part of the community. 

“Lynchburg is very fortunate to have a lot of great nonprofits run by [many amazing people with] a passion for what they are doing and a heart for the folks they are serving. We have so many people in our small community wanting to make it better as a whole. What better life lesson can we share with our children than we can make things better when we all work together?” GN 

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