When beloved Bay Ridge butcher Benedetto Caruso was diagnosed with brain cancer, friends, family and even his customers banded together to help support him in his fight.
Since he was diagnosed in August, shoppers have raised more than $19,000 for Caruso, more commonly referred to as “Benny the Butcher.” Caruso has worked at Foodtown of Bay Ridge for 36 years, creating a deep connection with many of his customers.
According to Carolina Ferrante, Caruso’s daughter, when the community heard about her dad’s health situation, her family was overwhelmed with the amount of support they received. Customers immediately began dropping off cards, blankets, gifts and donations at the store near 91st Street and Third Avenue.
The family eventually decided to organize a fundraising page as an easier way for everyone to donate. So far, the GoFundMe has raised $19,146 toward a $25,000 goal.
“I set up this page for my dad because we were told many of you would like to help him, he is extremely grateful. Thanks for all your kind words and prayers thus far. Please keep them coming,” Ferrante wrote on the fundraising page.
Caruso first fell ill the day after his son’s wedding, according to the GoFundMe, and while doctors originally thought he suffered a stroke, they later discovered he had Glioblastomas, a malignant tumor in the brain or spinal cord. “Benny” had to immediately stop working, his family said, leaving the job he had come to adore.
“Ever since then his world has been crushed because he missed his customers,” his daughter said. “He misses all of his customers very much.”
Co-workers and shoppers say they’ve long known Caruso as the smiling face behind the meat counter, who is always happy and willing to help them.
“They love him so much, all the co-workers. He has a wonderful family at Foodtown,” said Carlina Ferrante, Caruso’s daughter. “He just loves what he does. He’s always happy and you could always count on him.”
His dedication landed him many loyal customers and even an employee spotlight that calls him “one of the greatest meat cutters in Brooklyn.”
Jerry Quinn, a meat manager at Foodtown who has worked with Caruso for the last 10 years, visits his former co-worker often, bringing the gifts his patrons have left for him at the store.
“They just love him, they adore him,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “He’s good to the community too, he goes above and beyond what he needs to do to get people what they need and helps them out.”
Caruso’s family says the local support has helped keep him going, and as he begins chemotherapy and radiation treatments this week, they remain hopeful he’ll get better soon.
“I’ve been with a lot of people in this business for 40 years and nobody does what he does for the community,” Quinn said.