Community Engagement History

A Tradition of Giving Back

Our Journey and Focus

The entrepreneurial spirit is fundamental to our company’s longstanding success and is epitomized by our founder James Wills and his wife Julia. The Wills helped to build Southern Maryland Oil through hard work and ingenuity, while giving back to the local community throughout their lifetimes, including donating the land for Wills Memorial Park.

Upon James’s death in 1957, a local newspaper editorial commented that “virtually every improvement or development for the county’s good in the last 30 years felt Mr. Wills’ influence at some point… He sought not only to protect what the county has, but to enrich its future.”

Julia and James’s son Julian Blacklock “Blackie” Wills became President in 1961 and helped to create the thriving American enterprise now known as The Wills Group. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Blackie believed in community service and chaired numerous civic groups, including the Charles County Economic Development Commission, Governor’s Task Force on Economic Development, and United Way of Charles County. Under his leadership, SMO contributed the early seed funding for what later developed into the Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), helping low-income residents afford to keep their homes safely heated through the winter.

In this tradition, our company is actively reinvesting in the communities where we operate to make more family success stories, especially for those who face the biggest obstacles. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to create a better future for themselves and their children, and we are committing our resources to help ensure that no child is hungry and that everyone lives in a safe and healthy home.

The Wills Group’s Community Engagement initiative provides us an opportunity to achieve our own aspirations, make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and build a legacy that transcends our bottom line. By advancing this vision over the next decade in partnership with our employees, retailers, customers and vendors, we aim to achieve a level of impact that multiplies our investment and creates shared value in our communities.


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