He has been a rock for the entire family. She didn’t know what the truth was anymore. Will she be able to handle it? She was barely surviving as it was.
The previous three months had felt like a lifetime. Then she discovered what was really going on. She was starting to realize how many people knew things about him that she didn’t.
62 -year-old Velvet Poveromo felt like she won the lottery when she met her husband Charlie. The two were conjoined by the hip from the moment they first met.
He was everything she ever dreamt of in a partner. She thought she was going to spend the rest of their lives together, but things ended quite abruptly.
At the beginning of their relationship, Velvet felt like she was in a fairytale. They had an active social life, promising careers and their friends loved them.
She hoped that their bliss continued on forever. She couldn’t have been more wrong.
The couple’s life changed suddenly. They had different priorities and they had to leave their life of partying and vacationing behind.
Various situations caused the Poveromos’s relationship to drastically change. Their relationship bliss came to an end.
Velvet and Charlie decided that they were ready to start a family. Velvet knew that she wanted Charlie to be the father of her children, and she knew he’d be wonderful at it.
The couple soon had a child and they stepped into a different stage in their life. They could not be happier. The years passed quickly and wonderfully, but tragedy struck when Velvet least anticipated it.
Charlie was a bartender at a well-known restaurant and everybody knew him.
He was a kind and charming man, and people were always drawn to him. Velvet would subsequently learn that there was a lot more to her spouse than she had realized.
As time went on, it became clear to Velvet that Charlie spent the majority of his time outside with his cooler box.
People from all over the neighborhood knew the man with his “cooler box”. This did not bother Velvet, it seemed harmless to her. However, she was stunned when she found out what was truly happening all those years.
Velvet was so excited as she and Charlie could retire soon. It was March 2018 and the flowers were blooming. It was a normal day for Velvet, nothing being different than the previous days.
Her magical life, however, was ruined in what felt like a second. When tragedy hit, she felt as if her entire world had been shattered.
Charlie, unfortunately, suffered a life-threatening heart attack at the age of 57. He lost his life and Velvet lost her soulmate. She was at a loss.
Velvet isolated herself after she lost the man she spent her life with for the last 37 years. She could not eat or sleep. Velvet quickly discovered how the community loved him and how they all remembered him. She’d soon find out what they all truly thought of her late husband.
Charlie worked in a restaurant named ‘Grissini’s’, which was where he suffered a tragic heart attack. He hadn’t been in good health for a long time at this point. But that didn’t stop him from going to work and staying until closing time that night.
Tony Del Gatto was the owner of the restaurant. He had nothing but respect and praise for his long-time employee. But now things had changed.
Velvet noted that since Charlie’s untimely passing, there were no longer a lot of people in her neighborhood. Velvet thought that was peculiar so she decided to ask some questions.
Charlie was more popular than Velvet thought. She was about to discover why, and she was taken aback by how much she truly knew of his “cooler box” activities.
It was a little strange and daunting at first. Having so many strangers discussing her husband in such intimate detail felt odd.
It would be hard but she had to take action. Finally knowing the truth, she realized she had to do something to ensure that Charlie’s reputation remained intact.
One scorching summer’s day, Charlie had noticed garbagemen struggling with the heat. Without hesitation, he ran inside, fetched a cooler box filled with ice drinks, and offered it to them.
He continued the tradition each year after. Soon, every mailman and garbage remover around knew “Charlie’s place”—where refreshing drinks and friendly conversation to ease a hard day could always be found.
Velvet knew now that she had to keep the tradition going. She filled up the old cooler box herself with iced drinks and left it outside.
Putting a note on the box, this time it also acted as a way of letting people know what had happened to Charlie. The response she received was overwhelming.
“He was one of the finest gentlemen I had ever met,” Tony Del Gatto told a local news website.
“Everybody felt like an individual to him. He spoke directly to people; his eyes never wandered. There could be 20 or 30 people at the bar… but when a person spoke to him, they were the most important person in the room.” And Charlie’s popularity extended even further than that.
Charlie was so popular with his customers at the restaurant that his clients would call ahead of time to make sure he was on duty.
Charlie would also come in to work when he didn’t have to to perform odd jobs around the establishment. He was clearly dedicated to his job, but that wasn’t all.
At home, Charlie was absolutely dedicated to his wife, too. Velvet knew that her husband loved her with his whole heart.
It wasn’t just her, though – Charlie always went out of his way to show kindness to everyone he knew. “My Charlie loved me,” Velvet told TV station ABC11. “He loved other people.” How could she keep his legacy of kindness alive?
It wasn’t until Charlie was gone that Velvet realized just how much he did for the people around him – she had taken him for granted.
He had always done the household chores, he always made breakfast for his grandson and got him ready for school. And, of course, there was business with the cooler.
The more Velvet learned about her husband’s acts of kindness, the more determined she became to honor him by continuing the cooler box tradition.
She stocked the cooler box up with ice as the temperatures began to soar and attached a note about her wonderful late husband and his tragic passing. What did it say?
The message Velvet attached to the cooler box read: “In case you were unaware – my husband Charlie passed away suddenly at age 57 on March 10. I will do my best to continue to provide bottled water.”
The widow also took a photo of the cooler box and her message and posted it to Facebook.
After Velvet affixed the note, she saw exactly how much impact it made on everyone who saw it.
One scorching hot day, the garbage truck that was making the rounds reached Velvet’s home. But, instead of just gathering up the trash and continuing on their way, the men saw the note and did something unexpected.
Velvet recounted what happened on Facebook. The men in the garbage truck came to the house, saw the cooler box and her note, and stopped the truck. Then, they all walked over to Velvet’s house, filing in a straight line to salute.
The approached Velvet, shook her hand, and expressed their heartfelt condolences for her loss. But that wasn’t all.
Velvet’s sister-in-law, Monica Pidhorecki, decided to set up her own cooler on her lawn in honor of Charlie.
“It’s given us a reason to smile. And it’s such a great way to honor him and keep his memory alive,” she told ABC11. Meanwhile, Velvet’s Facebook post and story was gaining some serious traction online.
More and more people saw Velvet’s Facebook post and shared it – but that wasn’t all that was happening. Inspired by Velvet’s heartbreaking story, people everywhere began to put out their own drink-filled coolers for the servicemen, too.
Eventually, “Charlie’s Coolers” were cropping up online and the movement had spread across 13 states!
Doing her best to fill his shoes, Velvet began putting out the cooler box every summer too. Soon “Charlie’s place” was running again and Velvet learned how many people’s lives he had touched with his kind heart.
Hearing what Charlie meant to each person and how much they all missed him helped Velvet keep her husband’s spirit alive.
Velvet Poveromo always knew she had met the man of her dreams in Charlie. Despite his death, his legacy lived on. Velvet even collected a community award in his honor.
Going public with the story, other people from New Jersey and even other States began following Charlie’s kind tradition too—aptly naming it, the “Charlie’s Cooler Box” movement.
Although Velvet didn’t ask for donations to keep the cooler stocked with drinks, money began pouring in anyway. The interest in the movement became so huge that donations started coming in from strangers who lived across America.
Even though Velvet never asked for money, she is grateful for all the support she’s received. But, surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time Charlie had made headlines.
Charlie had been involved in another story that made national headlines back in 2016. He and the other employees at Grissini had pooled in to buy a lottery ticket. When the lottery results came in, they thought they had been lucky enough to win the $900 million jackpot!
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case…
In an unlucky twist, it turned out that the restaurant’s numbers were out of date and the real winning numbers were different.
“We were a mess for 20 minutes, and bam! It was over,” Charlie had commented at the time to The Record. “It was like getting punched in the stomach, but it goes away real fast.”
Still, Charlie’s legacy lives on – in Velvet and the people who knew him, and even the people who didn’t.
“You know, I was married to Charlie for 37 years (and, although he’s not right here beside me, we are still and always will be married) and he’s been gone for 3 months now, yet he continues to amaze me and still has a way of bringing a smile to my face and joy to my life!!” Velvet wrote on Facebook.