Ice cream trucks rally for homeless kids

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by MARK PRICE / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The same Charlotte charity that pulled off a successful cookie dough drive for the Ronald McDonald House has come up with yet another sticky fundraiser. This time, it’s an Ice Cream Truck Rally on behalf of the children’s charity A Child’s Place.

The goal is to raise thousands of dollars for homeless school children by selling ice cream off those musical trucks that ramble through neighborhoods on hot summer days.

Elise Redmond of the nonprofit Cookies for a Cause says she came up with the idea after seeing a group of kids go bonkers when an ice cream truck rolled up to a birthday party.

Within minutes, she had convinced the truck driver to partner on a campaign that will have $1 from each ice cream sale aiding A Child’s Place programs for the county’s estimated 4,700 homeless kids.

Neighborhoods interested in donating need only reserve the truck for a visit to their street.

“I have noticed that when something is fun and easy – and doesn’t take itself too seriously – so many good people want to do the right thing and help out,” says Redmond, a local attorney.

“In this case, kids get ice cream, and we’re raising money for other kids who are less fortunate.”

Those homeless kids will get some ice cream, too. Redmond plans for ice cream trucks to make at least two visits to summer camps for homeless kids, who’ll get their ice cream for free.

Redmond says it was luck that the ice cream truck driver to whom she pitched the idea, Laurie Clavette, also turned out to be the owner of Kool Cat Ice Cream’s expanding squad of trucks and carts.

Clavette says she loved the campaign proposal immediately, partly because she’s a former special education teacher with a soft spot for children in need.

The campaign is just the latest in a handful of unusual charity efforts that have caught the community’s attention in recent years, among them the Cookies for a Cause drive that supplied enough dough for 25,000 cookies to be baked for travelers staying at Charlotte’s Ronald McDonald House.

Among the most popular were a rubber duck drive for a Salvation Army Christmas program and an oatmeal campaign for the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. The latter hoped to collect 2,000 pounds of oatmeal and ended up with 79,000 pounds of oatmeal, 35,000 pounds of sugar and 20,000 pounds of grits.

As for the rubber duck drive, the Salvation Army wanted a few hundred for stocking stuffers and got 1,600 within two days.

Coincidentally, A Child’s Place says an Ice Cream Truck Rally isn’t the most unusual of the fundraisers being launched on its behalf.

Randy Boone, director of development for A Child’s Place, says the agency currently has a teen beauty pageant contender who has made raising money for homeless kids part of her platform.

He sees such efforts as indicative of Charlotte’s generosity and creativity.

Meanwhile, Elise Redmond is considering what she’ll do next to raise money.

Odds are it will be sticky.

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