Greg and Ashley Garrison, owners of The Hop Ice Cream Café in Asheville, N.C., know how to make people smile. Sounds obvious, right? What’s not to smile about with creative flavor combinations featuring locally grown vegetables and fruits and products like Lusty Monk Mustard, Dobra Tea Matcha and Asheville Buchi. There are options for just about everyone—dairy, vegan, sugar free, gluten free, local goat milk and sorbet flavors. But the grins just begin with the tempting treats. The smiles continue to spread with the Garrisons’ generous support and outpouring of love for their community.
“We try to have a fundraiser in the store one or two times a month, but often it happens more frequently,” says Greg. Just this month, The Hop has hosted five fundraisers. Not only does it help area groups raise money for their cause, it further builds connections—not just with the Garrisons and their customers, but also among people who cross paths based on these social events. Some of the charities helped include the MS Community of WNC, Autism Speaks, and the Asheville City Schools Foundation.
“We wanted to come up with something that wasn’t as generic as a quarter page ad in a magazine. When non-profit organizations reached out, we asked them what else we could do,” says Greg.
From there, the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. fundraiser was born. During that time on a specific date, the groups can encourage their members and supporters to show up knowing that 50% of the sales will be donated to their cause. Greg also spends a great deal of time communicating special events via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and sometimes Google+.
“Getting to meet the people whose lives are potentially benefitting from the event and working directly with them is an amazing thing,” explains Greg. “It’s immediately mutually beneficial and it makes us want to keep reaching out more and more.”
To put it on more of a personal level when explaining their motivation, Greg says, “Everyone has a sphere in which they operate. However small or large that sphere is, it is a person’s job to try to inject positivity into it as best they can. A former colleague, friend and sort of mentor always told me ‘it’s all about people helping people.’”
Photo courtesy of Micah Mackenzie.