A local restaurant's surveillance video recently showed a level of desperation many of us will never know. It shows a man walking onto the Hub Eatery patio, in downtown Utica, and opening a large cigarette receptacle, apparently looking for cigarette butts. Then, the man takes tablecloths from the patio tables.
"When I got a chance to go look at the cameras, I started going back and forth and flipping around, trying to see, tablecloth, tablecloth, then, bam, no tablecloth. So I go back, and he was right here, picking them up ...." said owner, Frank Cotrupe.
The next day, Cotrupe put a post on the restaurant's Facebook page, telling the man that if he needed help, he need only go inside the restaurant to ask, whether for pillows, blanets or food. Cotrupe didn't wait to be asked.
"So the next day, I put the post on Facebook and then we started putting some blankets and pillows around and now they're gone every day." The Facebook post has approximately 1000 reactions, nearly 200 comments and more than 400 shares.
Subsequent surveillance video shows what Cotrupe believes is the same man, taking a box filled with blankets and pillows, and leaving the patio.
"Being angry is not gonna fix anything. You can call the police, you couild be angry, it's not gonna change the problem There's still a problem," says Cotrupe, who is now partnering with other area businesspeople to provide assistance for the homeless, on a larger scale.