Charlie Poveromo of New Milford, New Jersey was one of the rare people who was always looking for ways to help others. Now, a small token of kindness towards his neighborhood’s workers and residents has inspired his wife to carry on a touching tradition.
For almost a decade, Charlie would put out a cooler in the summers with cold water bottles for those passing by his house. It all started one particularly hot day when he noticed some overheated sanitation workers.
After running back into the house to grab them some water and letting them partake in some of the shade in his yard, Charlie decided to make cold water a regular offering to those passing by his home.
His wife Velvet told North Jersey News that Charlie then went to the store on his only day off that week to buy cases of water, bags of ice, and a cooler.
From then on, refreshments were available outside their home 5 days a week in the summers.
“As word spread, we’d often see not only our sanitation engineers, but DPW employees, police officers, firemen, construction workers and the like stop by for a breather, some shade under our tree and a nice cold bottle of water. Last year, he expanded his “menu” to include Gatorade and orange juice,” she said on Facebook.
Sadly, Charlie passed away in March 2018 from a heart attack.
That summer, as the days became hotter, Velvet Poveromo decided to honor her husband by keeping up his tradition.
“I had to step into his shoes. Once the weather started getting warm, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, the water bottles.’ I had to do it. It was his tradition, and I had to honor him.”
By June, Charlie’s cooler was back outside, but this time with a sign letting workers know what had happened and promising to do the best she could to keep the cooler full.
The handwritten note read, “In case you were unaware, my husband, Charlie, passed away suddenly at age 57 on March 10th. I will do my best to continue to provide bottled water.”
The cooler even contains some free snacks as well.
And it looks like it’ll be stocked for quite a while after her most recent supply run!
Touched by the gesture and mourning Charlie, the local news picked up the story which then went viral.
Mrs. Poveromo wrote about the initiative on Facebook and soon #CharliesCooler was launched.
She’s also updated the signage on her own cooler.
According to ABC News, only a few weeks after the story hit the news, the movement had spread to at least 15 states.
Mary Cosney grew up in New Milford. She told ABC about putting out her own cooler:
“When Charlie passed away, the entire town was floored. He was one of the best people. He shined like a diamond – wherever he went, he brought happiness. To support them, I would’ve done anything. Charlie did it every single summer, and so will I.”
Now, you can find people paying it forward all over social media.
Here’s a cooler from Cape Coral, Florida:
And another from Paramus, New Jersey:
In her original post on Facebook, 3 months after Charlie’s death, Velvet Poveromo said stepping into the shoes of her husband of 37 years was hard work, but worth it in the end:
“…I had promised myself and him that I would do my best to respect what he had accomplished during his time here, not realizing at the time the joy it would end up bringing me!!”
She also recounted once special moment that first summer:
“…last Thursday, as I headed toward my house after restocking the cooler, I heard the unmistakable sound of the garbage truck ease to a stop and as I turned to look, I watched in awe as each man stepped off the truck, the driver getting out to join them and in a straight line they stood together and saluted our home and me!! As is happening at this very moment, my eyes filled with tears and my body began to tremble as one by one they each came up to me, grasped my hand, gave me a hug and told me how very sorry they were and that no one had ever shown them the thoughtfulness and appreciation my husband had and then slowly, one by one, they each took a water bottle or two, climbed back up on the truck and gave a loud beep as they drove off.”
Sometimes all it takes is one kind person to start something special.
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Source: Velvet Poveromo via Facebook