“Ice Cream Girl” helps provide needy with Thanksgiving food drive

She’s giving back once again, this time for the holiday season.

Maria Campanella, also known as Maria the Ice Cream Girl, held a food drive just in time for Thanksgiving, and attendees donated money and food for Reaching-Out Community Services, which runs a local food pantry, on Wednesday, November 15 at Café Di Giorno, 62 Avenue U.

The successful drive, held on Wednesday, November 15, saw many locals come together to provide other local families with the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner.

“This was the second time we did it in Café Di Giorno and it’s central to where my route was so everybody knows me and where I sell ice cream,” said Campanella. “I had a lot of customers come as well as friends.  It’s easy to get to so it’s a perfect location to host it.”

Campanella was appreciative of the café’s continued support “I’m lucky to be able to use the café for any fundraiser in the neighborhood,” she continued. “’If you’re doing something good, you can use the café. It’s your home,’ they told me. We’ve been having fundraisers there because it works. Their customers give so much.”

The event made $202 thanks to attendees, although money wasn’t originally going to be collected.

“We weren’t going to collect money but then I saw a flyer for Reaching-Out and I put it on my site before the event,” Campanella said. “I usually only collect food at my drive, but I said if you give $20 then we’ll give a family a turkey dinner. We had customers coming in that didn’t have food but they were giving $20s.”

A friend of Campanella’s matched the money collected during the event, which brought the total to $404 in donations, plus food, to the local food pantry.

Attendees enjoyed pastries and food donated by Nuccio’s Bakery, 261 Avenue U.

“It was amazing and so successful,” she said. “I am so proud of my neighborhood and to call myself a Bensonhurst and Gravesend girl. People come from all over Brooklyn to my events. We are a team that keeps getting bigger.”

She was also happy that she and her team will brighten Thanksgiving for some locals.

“While I’m eating Thanksgiving dinner with my family, there will be others with dinner on their table with their families,” Campanella said. “They’re not thinking about where it came from but just the happiness in their family. They could be going through the worst times but they’re going to enjoy a beautiful time around that dinner table with that family. Everybody deserves that.”

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