Comedian Aruba Ray Ellin does his popular shows in Aruba for tourists, while helping the local kids

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Last year, comedian Ray Ellin—also known as Aruba Ray—saw a facebook post from US social worker and frequent Aruba visitor Jennifer Koegel, asking for books to be donated to Aruban schools. He leaped into action, immediately purchasing over 100 books, mostly classic literature, and asking attendees of his very popular “Aruba Ray’s Comedy Club” to consider bringing books to the shows.

The response was phenomenal, and Ellin delivered them himself to the principal and students at the C.G. Abraham De Veer School. His collection of books has continued.

Earlier this year, Ellin knocked on the door of the Imeldahof orphanage in Aruba, asking Director Mirta Leon, “Hi, I’d like to donate a library. Would you like it?” Hundreds of books have now gone to the orphanage, in addition to loads of school supplies he collected from generous schoolteachers in the States. He has also collected money from some very generous Americans who love Aruba, to contribute to building a new jungle gym at the orphanage.

Ellin recently celebrated his ten year anniversary of doing his comedy shows in Aruba. They are TripAdvisor’s Number One “Nightlife Activity” in Aruba, as well as the Number “One Show.” And twice Aruba Ray’s was named as USA Today’s “10 Best.” Ellin‘s hilarious shows feature himself and two or three US comedians from America’s Got Talent, Netflix, HBO and Comedy Central.

He moved the comedy club last year to a new location in Eagle Beach, where the Eagle Casino used to be, inside the same building as Double Down restaurant. “I love this new location,” said Ellin.

“The Eagle Resort did a fantastic renovation, making the club as good as any in New York City.”

“I have known Ray for about 12 years now, and it still amazes me to see this caliber of entertainment in Aruba,” said Eagle Aruba Resort GM Richard Roy. “The shows are as good or better than any clubs I have seen in the United States from NY, Chicago, Atlanta, and LA.” It’s a must see show whenever you are in Aruba.”

Ellin’s love for Aruba runs deep, so much so that the front door of his home in NYC is painted with the Aruban flag.

And he said getting involved with the book project was an easy decision. “My oldest sister taught me how to read when I was three years old. In elementary school, my mother took my sisters and me to the library every week to pick out different books. My other sister ended up becoming a very successful writer. I loved getting lost in the different worlds created by Beverly Cleary and Robert Cormier and Judy Blume. I was lucky to have this in my life. Without question, reading is one of the most important and valuable things for kids to be doing. And when I heard that there were Aruban kids without access to these wonderful books, I immediately wanted to help.”

This book project was launched in September 2021, when Miss Koegel started the initiative with Aruban resident Charlotte Wolff Croes, who was the owner of “The Homeschool@Paradera”. After Miss Croes passed away, taxi driver Robert Croes is helping Miss Koegel collect and distribute the books. The program expanded to other schools; to date, eight different MAVO schools have received close to 2,000 books.

It is an enormous undertaking for Miss Koegel to facilitate this program – she collects books from various sources in America, has to deliver them to people in America who are en route to Aruba, and then arrange for distribution to the Aruban schools. She does this for no pay, and spends her own money to do so—but she thinks it is well worth it.

“The overwhelming response to this project has exceeded my expectations. The respect for this project has been evidence that Aruba has the best travelers who are committed to helping the community. Through networking, I have made so many new friends and proven that small contributions can quickly make a significant impact.”

And while Ellin was moved by Koegel’s plea on social media, this wasn’t the first time he has come to aid causes in Aruba. Over the years he has donated his services as a host and comedian to raise money for the Animal Relief Foundation (ARF), the Aruban Special Olympics team, and during the pandemic, when zero income was coming in to the Aruban economy, Ellin produced online comedy shows from his home in New York City, donating all of the ticket sales, raising thousands of dollars to benefit The Happy To Give Back Foundation.

In June, Ellin will be hosting a comedy show in New York, to benefit the dog rescue One Love Foundation.

Ellin wants other visitors to Aruba to assist in this cause. “People who love Aruba can easily help. Just call Jennifer Koegel in the United States at 201-704-5415. Or come to a show and bring books!”

You can visit Aruba Ray’s Comedy on Facebook or Instagram, as well as www.rayellin.com or www.arubacomedy.com to learn more about Ellin, comedy, or books.