BUCKTOWN — Wilfredo Cintron, an ice cream man who has served the Bucktown neighborhood for more than four decades, is finally able to buy a new generator for his ice cream truck — thanks to the generosity of neighbors.
In less than one week, neighbors raised more than $9,000 for Cintron through a GoFundMe fundraiser, nearly doubling the initial goal of $5,000. Around $6,000 was donated the day Block Club published an article about Cintron — who has never raised prices on his ice cream cones — and neighbors’ efforts to help keep his business going.
The generator Cintron had been saving for costs $5,000. But that’s a cheaper, older model and would likely have to be replaced again in a few years. Thanks to the fundraiser’s success, Cintron will now be able to afford a better generator that will last longer.
“I feel really good and grateful,” Cintron said in Spanish.
Bucktown neighbors Steve Adolph and Ellen Zfaney created the GoFundMe last week. They plan to keep the fundraiser up for another couple of weeks to encourage more donations.
The couple said they were moved by the number of donations as well as the stories donors shared of their memories of buying ice cream from Cintron over the years.
“We were blown away by the generosity of the Bucktown neighborhood and the way people came together,” Zfaney said. “It renews your faith in humanity, given everything going on in the world right now.”
Besides the generator needing replaced, this year was especially tough for Cintron, his son Jonathan Cintron said.
The coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of the season until mid-summer. The lack of pools, schools and summer camps slowed revenue considerably.
“Thank you for supporting us, everyone,” Jonathan Cintron said. “Someone said, ‘I never bought ice cream from this person, but I’m still gonna support them.’ My dad feels very, very grateful. It’s something heartwarming people did for us.”
Cintron got into the ice cream truck business in the 1970s after moving to Chicago from Puerto Rico. He’s had his own truck for 42 years.
Cintron has driven his truck throughout various Northwest Side neighborhoods, including Bucktown, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park and Hermosa. He started off selling cones for $1 and still sells them for the same price.
“The hero in all of this is just Wilfredo,” Steve Adolph said. “[He] just wants to do good by the neighborhood and has been doing it day-in day-out, year-in year-out for a really long time.”
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