About two dozen community members sat around a table on Sunday, addressing, sealing and stamping hundreds of yellow envelopes with one goal: to help get Keith Caputo, founder of the nonprofit organization Helping Makes U Happy and all-around Center Moriches cheerleader, on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The group, which included Girl Scout troop members, came together at the Helping Makes You Happy center in Center Moriches after Keith’s mother launched a social media campaign to help fulfill her son’s dream.
Keith, who is 39 and has Down syndrome, even appeared on the Catholic Faith Network’s telethon this weekend to talk about the effort.
Cassy Caputo said the campaign to get Keith on Ellen is especially important at this time to help rally the community around something happy following the tragic death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva.
Keith has been instrumental in helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Thomas’ mother and brothers.
Cassy said that so far, 4,625 letters have been sent, with another 200 going out from a school this week. The stamps were all donated. East Moriches Elementary delivered almost 500 letters today, stamped and all.
“I don’t have the words to explain how, as a Mom, it makes you feel to know he is so well loved,” Cassy said in a message. “And I think we all needed the happiness of doing this after the sadness that enveloped us after the Thomas Valva tragedy.”
“Ellen is my role model,” Keith said on Sunday. “She helped me when I was so sad.” He said his dream is to dance with Ellen and talk to her about helping others and being kind.
Caputo started volunteering under his mentor and founding members of the Moriches Community Center, the late Anthony Parlato III. After he died in 2013, Caputo decided to keep volunteering because it made him happy.
Helping Makes U Happy organizes clothing drives, Halloween costume drives and fundraisers. He was named the 2019 Long Island Advance Man of the Year.
“It’s the nice thing to do to help Keith do what he believes in,” said Girl Scout service unit 48 super squad member Jacqueline Lopez, 10, of Mastic Beach.
The letters to Ellen Degeneres discuss the many things Caputo has done for the community.
Students at the Center Moriches schools have are participating, and John F. Kennedy Middle School students also wrote Valentine’s Day letters to the show.
“Everyone should have a dream and he works so hard for the community,” said Cassy Caputo. “He truly inspires me.”
“When Keith was born they asked if I was going to keep him or put him in an institution, which never ever crossed my mind,” Cassy Caputo recalled. “This isn’t the retirement I planned, but it’s the most wonderful thing. He just inspires.”
Community members are encouraged to write a letter or post something to Ellen Degeneres’ FaceBook page with the hashtag #GetKeithCaputoOnEllen.