During the holidays, generosity flows through Huntington, in ways big and small. Business leaders write donation checks, non-profits distribute toys, elected officials collect and distribute winter coats, and grassroots groups feed the hungry.
And then there’s piano-playing Mariano Schwartz, who, with the dollars from his tip jar, helped those in need by delivering $320 in tips to his school principal, who in turn used them to buy gift cards for needy families.
The St. Anthony’s student collected the tips by playing a piano on Saturdays at the restaurant 317 Main, in Farmingale, his music ranging from Led Zeppelin to the Eagles, Ed Sheeran and Cold Play.
He was invited to play by his boss at the restaurant, where he already had a part-time job.
And while baseball fans might understandably think he’s named for the great New York Yankees closer, and the Schwartzes are indeed fans of the Yankees, his father said the name is rooted in a plan to name him Maria if he’d been born a girl.
Mariano isn’t sure where his music might lead him after high school. He is, after all, just 15, with plenty of time to decide his life’s work. At St. Anthony’s, he is a member of a few clubs, including chess, and a stained-glass club.
His recent Christmas gift wasn’t his first foray into good deeds. He previously raised money to assist hurricane victims in 2017, the families of the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre, and the people of Ukraine. “I decided that I should be a part of donating” to help others, he said.
It’s not a charitable instinct that grows out of his own need for attention.
His father, Brian, when asked for his thoughts on his son’s generosity, said, ‘I’ll tell you what I always tell Mariano, especially when he was reluctant to take the interview because in his own words he said, ‘I don’t want to be famous.’