The Fueling Hope fund to help charities in eastern Kansas

Inspired by a friend’s charitable fund that benefits organizations in this community, the owner of Topeka’s Capital City Oil has made it his mission to give back locally.

This year, Capital City Oil has 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 took some of their net profits this year and funneled that money into the fund.

“I think the main thing is just being able to give back to the community,” Spees said. “We have been blessed. We have been here for 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. Capital City Oil and Fleet Fuels’ goal, 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 transportation to get that food to the residential group home.

“Right now, because there are so many people out of work, we’re tackling the pantry type stuff first,” Spees said.

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

“We gave them little donations,” Spees said. “When the right opportunity comes along, we’ll probably buy a house and let them fix it and rehab it.”

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

“Donations like what’s on offer here are so crucial,” Sublet said, “because when you look at affordable housing across the country, it takes a three-way partnership to make it happen.

“You need the person who is going to buy the house. 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 this 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 housing in the Hi-Crest community,” Sublet said – just over 300 homes.

SENT contracts with construction crews to rehabilitate these houses and then tries to sell or rent them at reasonable rates.

Philanthropic efforts, like what Spees proposed, help SENT bridge the gap between the cost of renovation and the resale price of a home, allowing the nonprofit organization to maintain affordable housing.

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

Capital City Oil has 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.  House of Hope Kansas City was one of the first organizations to benefit from Fueling Hope.