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Donations pouring in after Ice Creamcycle Dude's story goes viral

Things are taking off for James the Ice Creamcycle Dude.

James Karagiannis, whose ice cream cart business in Buffalo brings cool treats to the underserved, had his story featured in The Buffalo News on Sunday.

[GALLERY: James the Ice Creamcycle Dude at work]

By Sunday night the story had spread on social media and people all over the country were supporting his efforts.

By Monday afternoon, two media outlets in the United Kingdom and ABC News had reached out to him.

"Media from everywhere in the world is calling," Kargiannis said by phone Monday afternoon. "It's really unbelievable."

Karagiannis’ Ice Creamcycles, based in North Buffalo, sells ice cream and frozen novelties for $1 in places like the East Side, West Side and Riverside.

Often Karagiannis encounters children who don’t have the dollar to pay for a frozen treat. So, at first, he made them answer a history or math question, laying some heavy hints for those who might’ve struggled to find the correct answer.

After word spread about his efforts and customers began making donations to cover customers who didn’t have the cash, Karagiannis started having the children write thank-you notes to donors.

James Karagiannis, also known as the Ice Cream Dude, owns a fleet of six IceCreamcycles that comb the city's poorer neighborhoods selling packaged ice cream for $1. He also keeps a stash to give children whose parents can't afford to buy. People started contributing to the effort, and recently a "Pay It Forward" online drive was started to raise more funds so every kid could have some ice cream. So far $4,500 was raised. Karagiannis asks each child to write a Thank You postcard to be mailed to each contributor. Postcards were designed by a freshman from Performing Arts. Thursday, July 14, 2016. He had stopped to give out ice cream in the Manhattan Square Apartments on Buffalo's east side. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

James Karagiannis sits with children as they fill out thank-you cards for the people who donated money so Karagiannis could away ice cream. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)



With his story now getting more attention, including on Facebook and Reddit, donations have poured in.

Now, Karagiannis is getting email notifications "in waves" about donations.

"It's all just so overwhelming right now," he said.

The fundraising effort, which he initially believed would garner an additional $400 or $500, had previously amassed about $4,500 as of several days ago.

Sunday night on Facebook, Karagiannis speculated that total may have reached $6,000. As of early Monday afternoon, he said he hadn't checked the total.

"I’m terrified to look," he said. "That’s a lot of ice cream to give out." With that much to give away, he's planning to reach out to some youth programs in Buffalo, he said.

Early Monday, Karagiannis' story sat atop a page on Reddit, also known as a subreddit, called "/r/UpliftingNews," which describes itself as having "links to uplifting, inspirational, feel good news stories from around the globe."

The page further describes itself this way: "This is an escape from the controversial, fear-mongering, depressing news that is riddled with sensationalism. There are still good, honest, compassionate people in this world and this is a place to share their stories."

The 36-year-old Buffalonian admitted he didn't know what the social media site Reddit was before his story went viral.

"It’s so amazing. It makes me proud that, like, Buffalo’s on the map," he said. "It’s just a little thing that I really had no idea would snowball, and I'm proud."

Anyone wishing to donate can do so online.


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