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Soul Ice sale benefits scholarship fund

When junior Kaylyn Andress opened the top hatch of her flavored ice vending cart at West Mifflin Area High School this week, it didn't take long for word to get around that free frozen fruity treats were up for grabs.

First there were two students and a few staff members. Then suddenly, a mob.

Kaylyn, who couldn't be seen at times tucked under the umbrella of her cart and surrounded by students, kept cool during the onslaught. Her arm didn't give out either, even though she packed dozens of eight-ounce cups with a milk and cholesterol-free icy substance of about the same consistency of ice cream.

It was a test run of a business called Soul Ice she is establishing with the help of family members and others.

If all goes as planned, Kaylyn soon will be serving the frozen treats for $3 a cup during after-school and other activities and turning a portion of her profits into a 529 scholarship savings fund benefiting minority students.

"We want to give back to West Mifflin and this is the perfect way," Kaylyn said of her goal.

It's a long process getting to that objective, said Kaylyn, who has received approval from the school board to sell the product after school and hopes to gain similar approval from athletic booster groups to sell the product at school sporting events.

Kaylyn, who has taken a PowerPoint presentation promoting Soul Ice to the various groups involved, said, "I've learned so much the past couple of months."

Until recently, she's been joined in her promotional efforts by high school senior Danyiel Francis, who's been helping get the program off the ground in West Mifflin. She said Danyiel is now in the process of moving to McKeesport and hopes to offer a similar program in the school system there.

The Soul Ice business model is one Kaylyn got from her older brother,

Malcolm Andress III, who is a minister and lives in Richmond, Va. Andress III said he's worked to develop similar vending programs that help fund schools, churches and other social outreach programs in that state.

"The timing is right," said Andress III, referring to his company's expansion into the Pittsburgh area. Andress III said his program has much to offer schools and non-profits because it helps develop business skills in young people and fund worthwhile programs.

West Mifflin Area High School principal Phillip Woods has been a proponent of the Soul Ice program.

"We're pushing to let them do it at the grand opening March 1," he said, referring to the public open house planned that day for the newly opened middle school. Woods said aspects of the scholarship program are still being developed, including eligibility and award criteria. He also said the district is trying to see if there are plans available in which the bank would match the program's donations.

"This is just at the beginning stage," he said.

Soul Ice already has conducted business at events as large as the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta and Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Kaylyn's father, Malcolm Andress Jr., said vending carts have been a part of his family for years. Having run a hot dog stand himself at sporting events, he said of his son and Soul Ice, "He just took it to another level."

Kaylyn is quick with information about the product. Though she didn't have all 26 flavors that are part of the business model during the test run, she told her fellow students how the fruits with which she topped the frozen treats were all fresh.

Students who were lucky enough to get a free cup of the treat this week gave it positive reviews.

"This is the first time I tried it. It's pretty good," said student Tiffany Kraus. "It's strawberry and banana with real strawberries."

Some students compared it to Italian ice while others said it reminded them of slushes.

Student Jake Strang, spoon and cup in hand, appeared to be enjoying his dessert. "It was worth the wait," he said.

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