The 84-year-old collects enough cans and bottles to equal $250, through the recycling center in his area, and then writes a check to Operation Smile for the full amount. Over the past five years he has found more than 100,000 cans and raised more than $4,000 to help kids. He has made enough money to provide 19 surgeries for children suffering from clefts and manages to collect about 1,000 cans a week year-round.
Ouellette first started volunteering and helping Operation Smile when he saw a television show on Operation Smile in 2005. Ouellette could not believe that a child’s cleft lip or cleft palate could be repaired for only $240.
Now, the employees at the recycling center know Ouellette so well that they don’t even bother to count the cans anymore – they merely ask him how many he has and give him the money. Ouellette said collecting the cans made feel strange at first because people though he was a homeless person, but then he started telling everyone why he does it. He hands out info on Operation Smile as he goes around looking for cans. He also shows people the picture of the children before and after surgery.
Some people now even save their cans to give him for his quest to help more kids.
Thanks to Ouellette, many more kids will have the happy smiles they deserve.