Giving back to those less fortunate is the goal for Brooklynite John Arroyo and Christian organization Cross to Light.
Arroyo took summer mission trips to Haiti through his church in 2016 and 2017 to aid those in need and saw the lack of resources that kids in most countries take for granted, specifically water. To tackle that, he devised the Cookie Monster Ball, scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 24 at 6 p.m. at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th Street, as a fundraiser for the island.
“Cookie Monster Ball is based on a little girl that I met in Haiti,” said Arroyo, who participated in building a chicken coop for one village during one trip. “It sort of came about as a promise I made to her. There’s no water in her village and the water they have access to, they boil and will drink that. But at times, it’s so bad that they won’t be able to boil the water, so they have to put drops of bleach in it to disinfect the water so they can drink it.”
Touched by what they saw, Arroyo and his team would bring water and cookies to the village when they came to work. “Kids are so innocent,” he stressed. “They have no idea they’re in a third world nation or about politics. They just want to play and have fun and eat cookies. As we were working, she would yell ‘you’ in Creole and everyone would laugh. I didn’t know what she was saying.”
On the last day of the trip, he found out she was yelling at him to give her more cookies.
“Just as we had packed up, she came to me,” Arroyo recalled. “I called her cookie monster, because I thought she was going to ask for more cookies but she said, ‘Water, please.’ I had no water to give her. I looked at her and promised to get the money for the water and that’s how this started.”
Although Arroyo and non-denominational Christian organization Cross to Light have completed clean water wells in Haiti, he felt that he had disappointed the girl and is determined to host a successful fundraiser here in Bay Ridge, which will include a three-course meal as well as food for thought with a video that explains the cause as well as showing how donations “impact any village that we can dig in for water,” he explained.
There will also be a silent auction for jewelry, and raffles for different gifts from the community like dinners.
“What I’m hoping to get out of it is enough financial support to dig a well,” he said.
He is also hoping to expedite the help that is greatly needed in the area.
“Haiti is still in really bad shape,” he said. “There are needs everywhere but I’m talking about this specific situation. The people of Brooklyn getting together, we can bypass the bureaucracy and take the money and put it straight to work.”
Tickets for Cookie Monster Ball are $58. To purchase and for more information, visit www.crosstolight.com/event/cookie-monster-ball.