“He came running into the kitchen, grabbed a bunch of plastic cups and our big jug of water and made sure everyone got as much as they wanted.”After Charlie saw how grateful the local sanitation workers were for his icy cold and refreshing reprieve, he headed to the store, filled his cooler with ice and stocked it with water bottles. He told the workers that day that his cooler would always be full and available to them all summer long. Eventually, Charlie added more than just water. He stuck in juice and even food.
“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.”But this summer, the cooler wasn’t there…. The couple had been married for 37 years, but Charlie had passed away of a heart attack three months before summer rolled around. The water cooler was the last thing on his wife’s mind, she told her local newspaper.
“Once the weather started getting warm, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, the water bottles.’”Despite the overwhelming grief she still felt, Velvet shook off the fog, found the water cooler and headed to the store. She bought enough water bottles to last for a bit, because it was Charlie’s tradition and she had to continue it as a way of honoring her beloved husband. When workers spied the cooler once again, they noticed it was accompanied by a note. Velvet had explained her situation and left behind a stack of prayer cards from Charlie’s service.
“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.”Aware of how painful it must have been for Velvet to continue treating them to ice cold water, the workers did something special for her. They let her know how grateful they were for Charlie’s generosity and that she had decided to carry on his tradition.
“…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.”
After people caught wind of Charlie and Velvet’s special treat, they established their own “Charlie’s coolers” concept. They are now located across the country.
“It’s taken on a life of its own. Every person who does it, it’s a tribute to him.”Even though her husband Charlie is no longer here, Velvet Poveromo knows he’s watching over her. He’s smiling down on her as he watches her keep this special legacy of his alive.