Bensonhurst’s own Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella once again put her storied ice cream truck to good use on Tuesday, September 5 at her very own fundraiser for Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The event, held on the corner of Avenue U and West 11th Street outside of Café DiGiorno, defied the odds (and the weather), coming together flawlessly in just three days – a record for Campanella, who thanked God for letting another one of her “dreams come true.”
“It was beautiful,” she said of the turnout. “It was something that I really, really wanted to happen but, with the forecast, and the way it looked outside, I really didn’t know if it was going to.”
Though she tries to stay away from television, Campanella admitted, there was just no ignoring the destruction and devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey.
“Once I heard about what was happening – it was the biggest talk of the town, and I kept seeing things pop up on the internet – I said to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve gotta do something to help,” she said. “At one point that feeling just got too overwhelming. It felt like a calling.”
And so, she answered.
The fundraiser – which cost attendees just $8 a head, and only $5 for children under 10 – went from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and included donated food from Queen Ann Ravioli and Macaroni and L&B Spumoni Gardens as well as a cake from a local bakery that read, “We Love Texas.”
Entertainment included a live musical performance by tenor vocalist Teo Ricciardella – a newfound friend of Campanella’s who provided old-school ballads and classics that reminded the Ice Cream Girl of her own father – among others.
“This could happen to everyone, everywhere,” said Campanella, noting that her efforts raised over $850, all of which she plans to donate to the Red Cross. “Watching these people, I realized that what’s happening to them is something that always scared me when my mother and father were alive. I always thought to myself, when disaster strikes – my mother had a hard time walking – how are we going to get her on a boat?
“It’s so devastating,” she went on, adding, however, that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. “It’s so beautiful seeing so many of these people out in Texas becoming heroes despite all this heartbreak.”
All in all, Campanella said, her Harvey fundraiser was a smashing success.
“Everybody was in a great mood, everybody was talking, hanging out, watching the singers. It was the perfect night,” she said. “What more could you want?”