Scooping Out Splashes

By Patrick Bohn ’05, July 9, 2020
Generous donation from IC alumna ensures that Ithaca’s Alex Haley Pool opens for the summer.

When the owners of Purity Ice Cream — Heather Lane, MBA ’10, and her husband, Bruce — heard that the City of Ithaca was facing a huge budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that summer programming and opportunities for children were going to be lost as a result, they didn’t waste any time.

“Bruce said to me, ‘We have to do something for the kids. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to call the mayor,’” Heather said.

“When we got in touch with him, we said ‘Purity wants to help our city’s kids have a good summer. What can we do?’” she continued. “He told us they wanted to open the Alex Haley Pool at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. We asked him how much they needed to make that happen.”

Now, thanks to $80,000 from Purity — and an additional $10,000 from the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County — the pool is open. The money will be used to pay the lifeguards.

“When I think about the mission of Purity, and why we donate to a lot of things, it’s always about summer opportunities for kids. That’s what this donation is about. It’s cool to be able to have that kind of an impact, and it’s especially nice when we can spread happiness.” 

Heather Lane, MBA ’10

“It made me cry,” Heather said of the pool’s opening. “As a business owner, you don’t always know you’ll be able have that kind of impact, and we’re super grateful to have had one.”

That was especially true earlier this summer, when the coronavirus crisis severely impacted the store’s bottom line. The Lanes were forced to close the doors briefly in mid-March, and although they implemented curbside pickup of various foods by early April, for nearly two months they couldn’t scoop and serve their signature ice cream.

“I was really worried about all of this,” Heather said. “We didn’t know how this was going to turn out, but we believed we could get through it.”

By mid-May, the ice cream was back, outside, thanks to a trio of pushcarts and some Plexiglas. Customers followed in short order, which enabled the Laneto make their donation.

“When I think about the mission of Purity, and why we donate to a lot of things, it’s always about summer opportunities for kids,” Heather said. “That’s what this donation is about. We also have many young people working for us, including IC students. It's our mission to hire young folks and provide first time jobs. Additionally, some of them are lifeguards, so their other job is now open again.

“It’s cool to be able to have that kind of an impact,” she continued. “And it’s especially nice when we can spread happiness.”