In the months since the weather warmed up, a Kona Ice truck has been traveling to events in Baltimore County — car shows and ball games and the farmers' market in Towson, to name a few.
The brightly colored truck, owned by Joni and Claude Elmore, sells cones filled with shaved ice. Customers can add their own flavored syrups from a row of 10 choices affixed to the side of the vehicle, or request a flavor from the 20 inside the truck. Meanwhile, calypso music plays.
Kona Ice, founded in 2007, now has more than 300 franchised trucks operating in 41 states and each one has a mandate to give to the communities it serves. According to Kona Ice, the franchises have together given more than $10 million to organizations in their areas.
For the Elmores, that means supporting local schools, ball clubs and events, including Kennedy Krieger Institute Roar for Autism.
Though the Elmores live in New Freedom, Pa., they have strong ties to Baltimore County. Joni Elmore, 43, was a police officer with the Baltimore County Police Department until she retired four years ago after 20 years of service, she said. Claude, 50, works in Cockeysville.
Joni Elmore said the couple had owned an ice cream truck, but after running it for two years decided to switch to Kona Ice. In March, they purchased the franchise, which covers central Baltimore County.
"Part of the foundation of Kona Ice is giving back to the community," she said. "We do a lot of events for nonprofit organizations, and we donate a portion of our sales directly back to them. We always try to do as much as we can."
This summer, Kona Ice is donating 15 percent of the proceeds from its weekly visits to the farmers' market in Towson to the Erika Brannock Fund, supporting the Towson preschool teacher who lost part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Scott Massengill, a friend of Brannock's who is helping with the fund, said he first met Joni Elmore when she attended a pre-season meeting of the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council, where he is a coach.
"She was at one of the coach's meetings and was giving out information about Kona Ice and what they did," he said. Then, after the Boston Marathon bombings in April, he contacted her to see if she would help.
"Joni was on board right away," he said. In addition to donating 15 percent of proceeds, she is putting donation cans on prominent display, so people can give to the fund, which will help Brannock with medical costs.
"Everybody loves those trucks," Massengill said.
Joni Elmore said she likes the bright colors of the truck, the music and the vibrant flavors, including raspberry colada, wedding cake, sour grape, banana daiquiri and cactus juice.
"People look at us and they smile," she said.ople look at us and they smile," she said.