With a few modifications to her grandmother’s recipe, Lisa Cotoggio started her own business last year – Grandma’s Cheesecake Sandwiches.
Cotoggio, who grew up in College Point and attended St. Fidelis School, now lives in Bayside and sells her desserts online and out of Cardinali Bakery in Carle Place, L.I.
Even though her business has been up and running for only about a year, she makes sure to take time out of her schedule to give back as often as she can.
This year for St. Valentine’s Day, she decided to personally give out cherry cheesecake sandwiches to people who are homeless and facing difficult times in their lives.
“Homelessness has always been a fear of mine,” Cotoggio said, “so to be able to help out and give these people a small treat is the least I can do.
“A lot of these people have nowhere else to turn so to be able to help means so much to them but to me as well.”
She filled a cooler with pre-packaged treats on Feb. 13 and then made stops at the Babylon Long Island Railroad Station and at the soup kitchen at St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Shore, L.I.
Thomas Wrightington was one of the men Cotoggio gifted with a cheesecake at the Babylon train station.
“This is truly a blessing,” said Wrightington, who has been on the streets for eight months.
A former baker himself, he’s trying to get back on his feet. He said Cotoggio’s gesture made an impact on him.
“We’re on the streets here, so it’s nice that someone comes by and gives us some food,” he said. A Catholic himself, Wrightington said that he turns to area parishes for help.
“It is amazing to see that there are people out there that still care and have love to give. We should all wish that there was more people in this world like Lisa.”
Her kindness didn’t end there. She spent St. Valentine’s Day handing out more of her special cheesecake sandwiches in Midtown Manhattan.
“Being able to bring a little cheer for a holiday is always nice. These people have had tough times and this is to show there is still love out there for them,” Cotoggio said.
At the time Cotoggio met Wrightington, there were not many people in the train station so she gave him a second cake. Rather than keep it for himself, he decided to share it with another woman who was too shy to approach Cotoggio herself.
Contributing to this article was Tim Harfmann.