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Brooklyn Brothers Hand Out Blankets With A Dash Of Hope To The City's Homeless

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is always referred to as "Giving Tuesday," an international day of giving that follows the buying sprees of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Many people donate money, but two brothers from Brooklyn are giving blankets to the homeless -- along with a little hope.

They look like ordinary purple blankets, but they're the heart of Nick and Mike Fiorito's Blankets of Hope program.

The brothers from Bay Ridge raise money to buy the blankets then attach an inspirational handwritten note to each one before handing them out to homeless people across the city.

"It started with just handing out 100 blankets," Mike told CBS2's Elise Finch. "It went really well last year."

This year, the men wanted to take it to the next level.

The 25-year-old Nick and 21-year-old Mike call themselves social entrepreneurs, meaning they use their business to do good in the world. The social media company they co-founded, happyFreaks, helps people live the best lives they can.

Paying it forward is a big part of that, so they're always very busy on Giving Tuesday.

"It's a really good day to reflect on where we're putting out money because it's not so much how much we have, but how we use that money that's more important," Nick said, "and I think today more than ever if we can, if we have the ability we should give back to those that are less fortunate."

On this year's outing, the brothers were in Times Square where they talked with people, lent a listening ear, and of course handed out blankets.

Recipients said they were appreciative.

"It's an actual gesture that means something," a man named Mario told CBS2.

"You're making them feel like they're wanted and not like a piece of crap on the floor," a woman named Cindy said.

The Fiorito brothers say their blanket project is more than a one day a year effort, because giving to people in need should happen all year long.

"I think what Nick and I have realized through Blankets of Hope is that the secret to living is actually giving," Mike said. "People can find really small ways to give because a little bit goes a long way."

The brothers say they've chosen purple as the color of the blankets because it's considered the color of royalty. They think the idea can be uplifting to those who are down on their luck.

During the cold months, the Fioritos go out twice each week to distribute blankets. They say they hope to give out at least 1,000 by the end of the winter.

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