"One of the hardest parts about being an ice cream dude is seeing the disappointment on a kid's face when all of their friends buy ice cream but they're left out because they don't have a dollar," says James Karagiannis, aka the Ice Creamcycle Dude, on his Facebook page.
Cycling his cart around neighborhoods in Buffalo, New York, he'd occasionally give away treats in exchange for answers to a math question or some other small task.
But he couldn't afford to cover everyone, so he set up a donations page. He made a deal with each kid: If you want the free treat, you have to write a thank-you postcard to one of the donors.
The donations came rolling in, and floods of postcards started going out. As of July 19, around $10,000 had been donated. Karagiannis and a network of other ice cream sellers give out sweets, and the recipients write notes on postcards designed by a local art student.
Karagiannis says he goes to areas of the city others might avoid.
"I just feel like people have an irrational fear of the inner city, but in my experience I haven’t found that to be true. The community is really strong. The children are all playing in the street and having fun," Karagiannis told ABC News. "I’m having a lot of fun."
Parents have noticed too. "He stopped in my neighborhood and was giving the kids ice cream," wrote one Buffalo resident on Facebook. "I didn't have money so I started to tell the kids to come in the house so they wouldn't cry. He said that it was free, the kids were so happy... Thanks, us families on budgets really appreciate this."