One Central Alberta youngster has turned his love for ice cream into an effort to give back to families in need.
So far, Haylen Astalos, 6, of Blackfalds, has raised more than $11,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer.
Haylen began selling ice cream in support of the organization after his fifth birthday.
Instead of gifts for his fifth birthday, his mother, Tabitha Astalos, said they did a ‘Five for Five’ theme celebration.
Guests brought two $5 bills to the party where one went to Haylen’s charity of choice, which he decided would be the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer, and he got to keep the other $5 to purchase a toy for himself.
“We gave him three options for charities that he could choose and we explained what each one did,” said Tabitha. “When it came to the Ronald McDonald House and we explained what it was about, it was his choice. We told him how they help keep families together while sick kids get treatment. That really struck him.”
After his birthday, he donated $100 to the House in Red Deer.
Haylen and Tabitha went to the Ronald McDonald House to donate the money and there they got a tour of the facility and learned more about how the house and the staff helps families in need.
“It was the first time we had ever been in a Ronald McDonald House and he just fell in love with it,” said Tabitha. “They have been so awesome and accommodating to us.”
About a month after that initial visit, Haylen asked Tabitha if he could start an ice cream shop with the proceeds going towards the cause. And that is where Haylen’s Ice-Cream Shop was born.
Initially, the ice cream shop was set up in front of the family’s Blackfalds home in the fall of 2013. “It was just like a little lemonade stand, but it was ice cream instead.”
The following May, Tabitha asked Haylen how much he wanted to raise that summer. Haylen said he wanted to raise $2,011. With the help of social media, Haylen reached that goal within two months.
Haylen’s next goal was to raise $3,009 which he met and then he made a third goal of $5,012.
“He said his goals have to keep increasing,” said Tabitha.
So far he has raised more than $11,000 and the funds continue to grow.
In addition to the ice cream shop, Haylen also does bottle drives where he collects money for the Ronald McDonald House as well.
“I am so proud of him,” said Tabitha.
“My hope is for Haylen to really see the difference that he is making in other kids. We know what it is like to have a sick child and watch them struggle through being sick. To be able to know he is helping other families to ease that time – I hope he understands that.”
The ice cream shop has given Haylen many opportunities over the past couple of years.
Businesses have asked for him to set up shop at their locations and he recently got to meet the Calgary Flames after they invited him to a practice after seeing his posts regarding his efforts on social media.
They invited Haylen to a private practice and he was able to set up his stand in the locker room, meet each player individually and sell hot chocolate.
Being a huge Flames fan himself, Haylen’s words when asked how he liked that experience were, “Super.”
Tabitha said the things Hayden has learned from the ice cream shop are incredible.
“The things that he has learned from this are definitely amazing,” she said. “The way he can count and add money now, he has become this math whiz. It blows my mind.”
Next up for Haylen, is launching a ‘City-Wide Ice Cream Blast’ across Red Deer on Sept. 10th.
The community is encouraged to set up their own ice cream shops throughout the City with proceeds from each shop going towards the Ronald McDonald House. Haylen will visit each shop throughout the day and judge each stand, picking his favourite. There will also be a competition between the participating stands to see who can raise the most money. For the upcoming city-wide fundraising event, check out ‘City Wide Ice-Cream Blast’ on facebook.
He also wants to begin a hot chocolate stand in the winter months so he can continue to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House.
For more information, visit Haylen’s facebook page, ‘Haylen’s Ice-Cream Shop’. Businesses interested in having Haylen’s Ice-Cream Shop on location can contact him through his facebook page.
Direct funds can also be made through Haylen’s Ice-Cream Shop via Ronald McDonald’s Make Fun Matter fundraising site at https://www.rmhccanada.ca/fundraiser/40.