‘Kona Ice Little San Diego’ truck helps fundraise for local schools and sports leagues

Sweet and frozen shave ice treats are bringing in funding for local schools through the Kona Ice Little San Diego truck. In just six days of the colorful, traveling tiki hut visiting Carmel Del Mar, Kona Ice was able to contribute $723 to the school.

The Kona Ice Little San Diego truck is owned by John Rodriguez of Scripps Ranch and he gives 20 to 25 percent of his proceeds on “Kona Days” back to the schools, inspired by the lack of resources provided to his own children.

About 95 percent of his business is fundraising, both for schools and local sports leagues. In Carmel Valley, he has built a great partnership with Carmel Del Mar and has participated in events for Canyon Crest Academy and Cathedral Catholic High School. His truck was a fixture at many Cathedral football games this season and, in three months, he made over $1,200 for the school. The truck also provided cold refreshments at the post-party for the Jan. 24 Carmel Valley 5K.

Being the guy in the truck window serving up icy treats is a very new experience for Rodriguez, a former engineer who decided to get his MBA last year.

“I wanted to own my own business but I wanted to help out the community as well,” Rodriguez said.

In his first three months in business, he has been able to give $7,000 back to the communities he covers of Mira Mesa and Carmel Valley. He is in the process of expanding his service area to Clairemont Mesa. By the summer, he plans to get his second truck to help cover the expanded area.

People can flavor their own Kona Ices from spouts right on the truck with rotating flavors from mango to cotton candy that Rodriguez makes himself. The most popular is blue raspberry and pina colada, although Rodriguez’s favorite is tiger’s blood, which is a mix of strawberry and coconut.

“Anytime someone asks for a flavor and I don’t have it, the next time I will have it,” Rodriguez said. “I surprise a lot of people, I love to do that.”

His flavorings are boosted with Vitamin C and have less sugar than normal syrups as they contain stevia. The syrups are more expensive that way, but he said he’d rather take the hit and have a higher quality product he can be proud of.

“I was in the corporate world for 17 years and this is something totally different,” he said, in between mounding ice into cones for kids after school on Jan. 23 at Carmel Del Mar. “I enjoy it. I’m a hard worker so I don’t mind the long hours. Seeing the kids, when you see the smile on their faces, that’s why I like doing it.”

Rodriguez said he knows organizations have lots of fundraising options, but his is easy because no volunteers are needed — he handles all the set up and sales.

“Just tell me where to park and the name to write on the check,” Rodriguez said.

He believes a Kona Day is also a good alternative over restaurant fundraisers. Rodriguez said whereas people can go to the designated restaurant at any time, the truck is an event that brings the entire community together — kids can play, parents can talk and people can enjoy a treat for $3-$5.

To learn more about having a Kona Day for your school or organization, visit or call (858) 275-3075.