Charities Cash in on Ice Cream Giveaway

Ben & Jerry’s did not accept customers’ money during Tuesday’s “Free Cone Day,” but non-profit organizations sponsored by each store cashed in on patrons’ donations.

Amanda Cardone, volunteer manager for the Northern Virginia Coalition, stood alongside the line for ice cream at Washington’s Union Station Ben & Jerry’s location hugging a plastic bucket full of donation dollars. In two hours she collected over $200.

By the end of “Free Cone Day,” which lasted from noon to 8 p.m., the ice cream cravers shelled out about $1,000 in donations to the coalition, which provides aid to homeless victims of domestic abuse. The organization pulled in an additional $1,000 in charity dollars from another partnering Ben & Jerry’s branch at Dulles Town Center.

“[Ben & Jerry’s] could do this free cone day and just have it as a way to get people to try their ice cream,” said Cardone. “Instead they partner with these non-profits and it’s a great way to give back to the community and bring awareness about the different social issues in the area. It’s great.”

While the Union Station and Chevy Chase shops gave away 50 boxes of ice cream, the Old Post Office Ben & Jerry’s near Metro Center dished out 74 boxes. But the Georgetown shop topped all locations in the District by serving 100 boxes or 5,000 free scoops.

“We made some money for a good cause,” said John Moriarity, a manager at the Georgetown parlor, “and also got out the word about Ben & Jerry’s and our corporation’s core principles, which really try to give back to the communities in which we serve and to causes that are important to humanity.”

The Dupont Circle Ben & Jerry’s served up 35 boxes of ice cream, due in part to some reoccurring faces. Although visitors were allowed to reenter the line as many times as desired, shift leader Ashley Campbell remembers one patron who tried to look different every time he stepped to the counter.

“There was this guy with a Washington Nationals hat on,” recalls Campbell, “he was like a master of disguise. He had a coat on, then had it off, put glasses on. He came back through the line about 20 times. That was the funniest.”

Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, which partnered with the Old Post Office Ben & Jerry’s, collected a little over $1,000 in contributions, according to Kate Horner, operations manger at the foundation’s mid-Atlantic chapter. The non-profit has partnered with Ben & Jerry’s in the past three years.

“It’s kind of a business area so it was really, really busy for a while,” said Horner, whose foundation helps seriously ill children and their families cope with daily challenges. “We made more than we thought we would.”

Overall, customers, non-profits and the ice cream servers all seemed to enjoy the day of free ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt.

“Free Cone Day was a success all across the board,” said Moriarity. “Everybody who came in the door came in with a smile and was hungry for some ice cream. Everybody who served them, employees and volunteers alike, looked forward to doing just that. If you can have fun and help people, everybody wins.”