Volunteer scoopers make United Way ice cream parlor a success at the Nebraska State Fair

Volunteer scoopers make United Way ice cream parlor a success at the Nebraska State Fair
World-Herald News Service

GRAND ISLAND — Volunteers are able to scoop to support the Heartland United Way at the Nebraska State Fair.

Cammie Benson, director of community engagement for the United Way, said it takes more than 250 volunteers to operate the Scoops ice cream parlor in front of the Tom Dinsdale Cattle Barn.

Karen Rathke, president and chief professional officer of the United Way, said the agency has operated the ice cream parlor at the State Fair since it moved to Grand Island in 2010.

Rathke said the United Way felt the State Fair would be a way for the organization to raise money for the nonprofit organizations it serves.

“We did not know what that would look like. So I kept approaching the State Fair with different ideas,” she said. “Each time, they would say, ‘No, that is already being handled.’

“Then, Jamie Parr, director of sales for the Nebraska State Fair, called me one day and asked how we felt about opening an ice cream parlor. I said, ‘We would love to.’ That is how it all came to be. We learned how to open an ice cream parlor and run it.”

Scoops serves 12 flavors of ice cream in cones, dishes or waffle cones, along with milk and water. Rathke said the ice cream is purchased locally from Hiland Dairy.

“We order about 440 3-gallon containers,” she said. “When you take that times three, it is 1,329 gallons of ice cream that we serve.”

Rathke said the Heartland United Way usually goes through 95 percent of its ice cream supply and, at times, has to order extra ice cream. Last year, Scoops raised $60,312 from sales at the State Fair, junior cattle shows and Aksarben.

Benson said there are three things volunteers can do at Scoops. They can scoop ice cream, run the ice cream from the scoopers to the windows, or run the cash register. She said each volunteer group can decide who does what task.

Prior to working in the Scoops ice cream parlor, Benson said volunteers took part in an hour-long training.

Micki Kenyon and Tonya Bryant said they planned to volunteer at Scoops with a group from Jazzercise.

“We all Jazzercise every morning at 5:30 a.m.,” Bryant said. “It is like we are a group and a big family. We do things outside of that to help out the community.”

Hall County Supervisors Karen Bredthauer and Gary Quandt were two of the veteran scoopers. Bredthauer said she has volunteered at the ice cream parlor for “four to six years now.”

“They helped a friend of mine in need when she was down on her luck,” Bredthauer said. “I feel that this organization does a lot of good for people in community. It gives them that little extra boost.”

Quandt said he planned to work six shifts at Scoops during the State Fair, which runs through Sept. 3.

“I have scooped a lot of ice cream,” Quandt said. “I do just about anything. It is a great cause and it benefits of entities in Grand Island.”

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