Local entrepreneurs Tim and Christie Wolfenbarger have purchased a franchise in a shaved ice food truck business called Kona Ice that has the potential to give thousands of dollars back to local schools, churches and other community organizations.
“It’s all about the experience, the Kona Ice experience,” Christie said. “You come up and you see the big truck and then we give you the ice. We can mix two flavors for you, but the neat thing about it is the patented flavorwave.”
The flavorwave is a self-serve apparatus on the side of the track that allows visitors to put their own flavor combinations on their shaved ice. During events the truck is a sight to behold, complete with bright lights and vibrant colors. The Wolfenbargers also play calypso music to give the whole experience a relaxing, tropical vibe.
The food truck offers at least 20 flavors with hundreds of possible flavor combinations.
And the product is healthier than many shaved ice options. The flavors are infused with vitamin C and D and contain 40 percent less sugar. The flavors are also free of GMOs and high fructose corn syrup.
Christie and Tim give 25 percent of their proceeds back to schools during school events and 20 percent back to other organizations they fundraise for.
Schools and other organizations can contact the Kona Ice truck — contact info is available on the Kona Ice website — to set up special events or request that the truck show up for certain preplanned activities like field days. The truck can be requested for any number of events, including block parties, church events, fairs and even corporate events.
The food truck covers territory in Sullivan and Carter counties, including Bristol, Piney Flats, Elizabethton, Watauga and Bluff City. Another Kona Ice truck, which has been in operation for several years now, is available for organizations and schools in Johnson City that need a fun fundraising tool.
Christie and Tim also co-own the Just Jump trampoline park in Johnson City, a business that she believes serves a purpose parallel to Kona Ice.
“Just Jump was such a great thing for the community,” she said. “The community responded so well and to see the joy I guess that Just Jump brought to people in the community ... that’s just just neat to see. When I saw Kona Ice, it kind of took me back to that.”
The truck’s charitable donations to schools can come in two forms. When students bring money from home to pay for the shaved ice, Tim and Christie give 25 percent of the proceeds to the school. If the school pays for the food, Tim and Christie take 25 percent off the price.
As a company, Kona Ice has given about $40 million back to schools and other organizations that benefit from fundraising since it started in 2007.
Tim and Christie see this fundraising component as something special.
“Not only are we bringing something great that the community will love, but we’re able to give back,” Christie said. “That give back is so huge and can help so many things.”