Niagara Gazette — A typical summer Tuesday for Castiglione involves a handful of candies and a pair of arms ready to envelope his friends in those hugs as many times as possible. Remember, this is a quiet man. He spends his other days enjoying the news more than a conversation. “I’m not used to talking about myself,” he jokes.
But there’s something different about helping the children who come down the hill, looking for a bit of a sweet payoff for their parents’ dollar bills and coins. Or the wheelchair-bound girls, sometimes forced to rely on others but always glad to be at Artpark, he said.
Heart & Soul isn’t the only time he’s ever helped anyone, though. The retired carpenter, who helped build the house on Elliott Drive he calls home today, volunteered for more than a decade in North Tonawanda, at a different pantry. His wife continues to help at the place to this day, though he had to stop.
What does it all mean? Well, the amount of hurt in the world speaks to him. He sees the news, reads the newspapers. He knows he needs to do whatever he can to ease the suffering even just a little.
“There’s page after page (in the newspaper) about a benefit for this person or a benefit for that person,” he said. “There’s such a big need out there. There’s a lot of people hurting.”
So Tuesday, when the last concert-goer passed by and dropped a dollar in his pot, he was both sad and excited. He knew the money he’d spent 12 weeks volunteering for would go to help some important people. Not ones spoken of in the headlines, but important because they’re alive.
But he was also sad, his latest season had just come to an end and he needed to go home. He needed to take a shower – there were a lot of bugs in the air that night – and move forward with his life.
His season of helping was at an end.
“Hopefully I’ll be there next year,” he said through a laugh. “I was saying, ‘This is the last night,’ looking for more money, more than a dollar. It was a great night.”
If you can forget the bugs, that is.Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.