BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island man has made it his mission to improve lives, despite challenges in his own.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, to know Keith Caputo is to love him.

“I feel happy, proud and excited,” he said.

On Thursday, the 36-year-old Center Moriches man, born with Down syndrome, loaded up backpacks filled with school supplies he collected for underprivileged children in his community. Everything was donated to the non-profit organization he founded just two years ago, called Helping Makes U Happy.

“I love kids, and the community,” he said. “I love them, and they love me too.”

Cassy Caputo helped her son launch the charitable organization after his coach and mentor, Anthony Parlato, passed away. Keith said Parlato taught him the value of giving. When he died, his broken heart just had to get out and give again.

“I sat down with Keith and said, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ And said, ‘because it makes me happy, it makes them happy, it makes everyone happy.’ So Helping Makes U Happy just seemed the way to go,” she told Sanchez.

“My mom thinks, ‘hey, Helping Makes U Happy,'” Keith said. “Wow, that’s an awesome idea!”

Keith’s magnetic personality has drawn so many to his cause, he had to rent an office building, where he runs a food pantry and collects clothes, toys, and other necessities for families in need.

Thursday’s grateful recipient was Clayton Huey Elementary School.

“It makes everybody want to be their best self and reminds us just how important it is to help others and be kind,” Principal Kim Hardwick said.

“When you have a child with Downs, and he’s your first, you think – Oh, he’s never going to grow up to be president. But then you realize, he’s grown up to be so much more,” Cassy said.

It’s nearly impossible to be in Keith’s presence without feeling inspired, Sanchez reported.

For more information about Helping Makes U Happy, click here.

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