Shaved ice is starting to be hot stuff this time of year, and now nonprofit groups can benefit from that fact.
Kona Ice recently announced a new franchise owner is distributing its products in Somervell County, offering to give back to Glen Rose and surrounding communities.
The husband and wife team of Lonnie and Melanie Thibodeaux started making the rounds about a month ago as Kona Ice of Paluxy River. Last Monday through Sunday, they were strategically placed just inside the entrance to a very busy location — Dinosaur Valley State Park. That week-long stay enabled the Thibodeauxs to donate $1,700 to the local nonprofit LDL Foundation, a friends group for Dinosaur Valley State Park. They are scheduled to set up at the park again this weekend.
Lonnie Thibodeaux stayed plenty busy just after noon that day as children and adults alike drooled at the wide variety of flavors — from lime, cherry, banana and strawberry basics, all the way to the more exotic tastes. Tiger’s Blood (a mixture of coconut and strawberry), Lucky Lime and Blue Raspberry are the three most popular, Thibodeaux said.
But Kona Ice delivers more than tasty flavors. It also can bring fundraising opportunities to local schools, youth sports leagues, churches, food banks and other charities. Kona Ice has given back more than $40 million to neighborhood schools, organizations and teams.
“Any nonprofit organization,” explained Lonnie, who also owns and operates an independent insurance agency in Granbury known as Sargent Insurance. “And we will give back a percentage of the gross proceeds.
“From rattlesnake roundups and (barbecue) cook-offs, outdoor concerts, school fundraising and church camps, we’ll serve ‘em all.”
Events called “Kona Days” will be available to allow school administrators to raise money for underfunded programs.
The percentage that goes to the nonprofit group can vary, and long-term contracts can result in better deals, Thibodeaux said.
In addition to Somervell County, the Thibodeaux’s franchise area includes Stephenville, Hillsboro and Alvarado.
The colorful truck has speakers pumping out quaint “calypso” music to set the mood.
“This is a kid magnet,” Thibodeaux said. “And the give-back to the community is a priority for us. It’s about the community.”
Youngsters who purchase one of the overflowing cups of shaved ice can even pour on their own choices of flavors — from a “FlavorWave” outlet on the side of the truck. Those not so inclined are more than welcome to have Lonnie or Melanie pour on the flavors for them.
Ten of the most popular flavors available on the outside self-serve station, and about 10 more are available from inside the truck.
Another difference in the Kona Ice product is that it’s “Smart Snack” approved. The Smart Snack program was established under the direction of former First Lady Michelle Obama, Thibodeaux said.
The VitaBlend mixture has 40 percent less sugar than a classic snow cone, and is fortified by vitamins C and D, he added.
There is also a different product line known as Fruit First, in which the first ingredient is fruit.
Thibodeaux said he first thought about the idea of having a Kona Ice franchise during a visit to visit his brother in Louisiana last July. One of his brother’s friends has a Kona Ice franchise, and he called him later to find out more. Now the Thibodeauxs are about to get a second Kona Ice truck — just a little smaller than the first.
“We kept coming back to the fun factor,” Thibodeaux said. “This was just too much fun to pass up. It’s fun to see the kids’ faces when you serve them a shaved ice. It’s priceless.”