84 Year Old and His Can of Smiles.

Making a difference.  It’s a task many of us aspire to do each and every day. We look for that moment to hold a door for a woman carrying groceries or to pay a complement to a stranger on the street. Small? Yes. But in the collective it makes everyone’s life better.

Today’s story features an 84 year old man who has earned the right to sit in an easy chair and take a break. As you’ll see below, this fellow took an entirely different rout and is changing lives and smiles in the process.

George Ouellette may be retired after 40 years as a salesman, but he still works up to six or seven hours per day walking through parks, hillsides, along busy roads and even rummaging through garbage cans to collect cans and bottles to help create smiles for children in need.

The 84-year-old collects enough cans and bottles to equal $250, reimbursable for five-cents each at the local recycling center, and then writes a check to Operation Smile for the full amount. Since 2005, Ouellette has collected over 100,000 cans, raising a total of $4,440 and providing 19 surgeries for children suffering from clefts. He collects around 1,000 cans a week year-round. Even the winter season in Chelmsford, Mass., doesn’t slow down his mission as he wears flannel-lined jeans to keep warm.

Ouellette first started volunteering and supporting 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. “The work of Operation Smile struck a chord in my dad and he decided that this would be his job – his purpose,” said Sue Ouellette, his eldest daughter. 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’s 90-year-old wife supports his cause as the bookkeeper for the funds he raises. Ouellette said collecting cans made him a bit uncomfortable at first, as people looked at him like he was a vagrant, but because he knows how much good he is doing with the money he continues to collect recyclables and tells everyone he encounters why he is collecting cans. As he walks and collects cans, he hands out Operation Smile marketing materials to spread the word and shows pictures of children Operation Smile has helped when people ask why he is collecting cans. Ouellette is sure to mention that a child’s smile can be transformed for only $240. In sharing his cause while collecting cans, Ouellette has developed a circuit of other supporters who save cans for him.

He often makes his “rounds” to collect them and then he collects his own supply. Ouellette also has the support of his four grown children, who buy him warm clothes and items for collecting cans and bottles as holiday gifts. “My dad was a hard-working salesman for many years. However, he felt like he had not done enough to give back to the world, even after raising and educating four children,” said Sue Ouellette. “He’s not only an amazing father and volunteer; he’s an inspiration to anyone.” www.operationsmile.org

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20 Responses to “84 Year Old and His Can of Smiles.”

  1. Sandra Leos Adams says:

    Inspiring,beautiful & amazing story!! : )

  2. Brenda says:

    Wow. Now, that is inspiring! It is heartwarming to see such good in people and should make us all stop and think of what we are doing to give back to the community. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Barb says:

    Mr.Ouelette is surely an inspiration to all of us. God Bless him for his good works and kind heart.

  4. Bhagirathi says:

    My hats off to Quellette. He is an inspiration to one and all. He teaches us two lessons. 1. no work is small. 2. If one has the will, he can make a difference. Congrats!

  5. Bridget says:

    It really is great to see that there are actually people left in this world that care about other human beings. We have become so automated and self-serving that the concept of Customer Service no longer exists. The world needs alot more people like George,,what a difference the world would be then….god bless you mr. Quellette!

  6. M.R.Rangaswamy says:

    What a great avocation which can bring everlasting smile on cleft lips !

  7. Dorothy Milburn says:

    I think it is wonderful of this gentleman to give such a gift to each child that benefits by it . It also provides a means for him to exercise his body, much needed at his age.
    I have seen many children with this problem and feel so sorry for them. I did not know such an operation were possible. Thank God for people like this.

  8. Serena says:

    What a touching story,thank you for sharing! Very inspiring for people to be purposeful and start giving to others in need. God bless George and his family!

  9. Rhoda A. Lagumen says:

    Thats great, very inspiring. thanks for sharing.

  10. Celestino Silva says:

    Wow what a blessing and a great example of the love of God in Quellette life, when God said in His Word don’t just look of for your own interest but look out for the interest of others too. That’s what Quellette is display the Mercy of compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that God would keep him and bless him the to good work he is doing for the Lord.

  11. Gail says:

    God Bless you George! You are an inspiration! Look at all the lives you’ve touched – God has a special place reserved for you! Thank you for being the man that you are and setting such a wonderful example – maybe it’ll catch on…!

  12. Simon says:

    My hats off to Quellette. He is an inspiration to one and all. He teaches us two lessons. 1. no work is small. 2. If one has the will, he can make a difference. Congrats!

  13. Kat says:

    Go George! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, He is ineed a warrior from the light, setting an awesome example for us all, he got me all teared up, he got me all motivated, got my mental wheels turning for ideas my family and friends and I can do like this! Thanks a ton George! Kat

  14. Bett Gold says:

    Good deeds Quellette! What you’ve been through touches me. You never run out of anything to do for the benefits of many. Yes! You were able to make a difference. A perfect example of ministering for a cause – sponsoring cleft palate children to acquire a normal life while saving the environment as well.
    We could be Quellette in our own way too. Age doesn’t matter… Why don’t we ask ourselves…What else can we offer? How to get started? Jot it down, plan then implement. We’ll be surprised by the results of our endeavor. Let’s live life to the fullest as if it’s our last. Make the most out of it. We can never turn back the time.
    Personally, I am an advocate of saving Mother Earth. I hate to see bodies of water floated by trashes. I don’t like to behold balded hills and mountain. I dislike to have leaking faucet and overflowing drops of water on the bucket. EVERY DROP COUNTS! is one of my motto. Even just a piece of candy wrapper I never throw it elsewhere. I practice proper disposal and water conservation. By this I can help save the environment. How about you? What else can you do? What can you contribute?

  15. Deb G says:

    This is truly the way all Christians should be It shows the true spirit of Jesus. everyone should learn from Mr. George Quellette fine example.This story made me stop and think thank you for sharing. God Bless you

  16. bre dun says:

    Perhaps putting the container with ” Med – Childrens Funding, chuck in the Can’ beside trash cans can opertune the situation more.

  17. Chetan says:

    inspirational,really an inspiration to come out of most of our
    self centered lives..

  18. As I read the above article it brings about love in action as this shows what lengths you could go if only you have some compassion for another human.
    This is what our Lord and savior also did as he laid down his life so that we may be redeemed from sin, and this is love unconditionally, as such if we also love one another this world will be rid of all wars and hatred, may we follow in the footsteps of our master.


  20. what a testiment of a human being.we all need to do
    whatever we can.the smallest effort makes the biggest
    difference.if everyone did alittle there were be no in
    need,isnt that a wonderful thought!god bless you in your continued work.

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