By Sara-Megan Walsh
When a Huntington business owner gave away 30 turkeys out of the back of a pickup truck on Thanksgiving eve nearly a decade ago, he was shocked to find out there were so many families in need. Rather than shy away from the issue, he started raising funds to turn it into an annual family event where thousands have received their holiday meal.
Lifelong Huntington resident Andre Sorrentino, owner of PAS Professional Automotive Services on New York Avenue, is known for having a larger than life personality to go along with his big heart.
“He’s a very good, very kindhearted person; really a pillar of the Huntington community,” said Huntington Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R), whose state assemblyman offices are located across the street from Sorrentino’s business. “A lot of people look up to him and people like to work alongside him. He always has the community’s heart with him.”
Lupinacci said he was there that first Thanksgiving, with Sorrentino and his daughter when they handed out turkeys on the streets of Huntington and Huntington Station. He has been amazed to see the annual Sorrentino Trucking Turkey Give Away expand to giving away approximately 2,000 turkeys in 2017 — 1,000 of which were purchased by Sorrentino himself.
The turkeys weren’t enough though. Sorrentino coordinated with Suffolk County’s 2nd Precinct to have police officers help hand out what turned into turkey, all the trimmings and household goods like soap and laundry detergent.
“He’s all about giving back to the community that’s given him so much,” the state assemblyman said.
This August, Sorrentino worked with his friend, George Schwertl, of Lloyd Harbor, and Dom Spada, the second assistant chief of Halesite Fire Department, to coordinate a massive donation drive for Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas. A mass email was sent out by Halesite Fire Chief Greg Colonna that asked residents for donations of nonperishable food, toiletries hygiene products, water, blankets and dog food to be dropped off at participating busineses which included Sorrentino’s auto body shop on New York Avenue.
Schwertl and Sorrentino paid for five Sprinter vans out of their own pockets and planned to drive down to Texas, and distribute the donations by hand themselves. By the time they left, it had grown to include tractor-trailers.
“We want to be positive that when we get there they will take the donations and it will go into the right hands,” Sorrentino said in August, prior to the trip.
He took time away from running his business and his wife, Kim, with their two young daughters to make the drive to Houston. Kim Sorrentino said she’s not surprised by her husband’s trip or charitable actions.
“My husband and his family have been here for so long, and we’re lucky enough we’re in a position where we can help people at this point in our lives,” she said. “We really love Huntington, and we’re trying to make it as good as we can.”
It seems many people from Sorrentino’s employees to firefighters and elected officials have said they know they can turn to him for help when times get tough.
“He’s got a good heart and wants to do things to help people,” said James, an employee of Sorrentino’s who requested his last name not be used. “I’ve seen him help people that pretty much no one else would. He’ll pick a person up. It’s the way he is.”
“I think Andre Sorrentino is what is best about this community.”
— William “Doc” Spencer
Northport resident Phyllis Berlin-Sasso called Andre Sorrentino “the kindest human being in Huntington” for the help he gave her.
“I was divorced with three children at the time, and I would get my car repaired by him,” she said. “They helped me out with payment plans to pay for it.”
Several others related similar tales as fire department members from Huntington Manor and Lloyd Harbor said they know they can turn to Andre Sorrentino and his family if they have a resident with an issue — and even if he can’t help — Sorrentino has been known to put them in contact with someone who can.
“I think Andre Sorrentino is what is best about this community,” said Suffolk Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport).
Many suggested that perhaps, Sorrentino’s charitable nature came from his upbringing by his father, Andre Sorrentino Sr., the owner of Andre’s Shoe Repair in Huntington. But his father said he couldn’t take the credit.
“He is doing things right for the community, it’s simple what he does,” he said. “I’m very proud of him.”