New York, NY—In the wake of Hurricane Eta in Honduras earlier this month, New Yorkers and non-profits continue to demonstrate their support and compassion for those affected by the powerful Category 5 storm by donating truckloads of equipment and materials.

Many volunteers have been on the frontlines helping to collect the urgent materials for delivery to Honduras. Gigi Leon-Gomez is a Honduras native who lives in New York City, and while her family and friends in her home country have not been directly affected by the storm, her heart is heavy for her fellow Hondurans.

Leon-Gomez has a long history of volunteerism. She’s a volunteer alumus with Operation Smile, the largest surgical volunteer-based nonprofit that helped to revolutionize cleft surgery globally in the early 1980s.

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Soon after Eta struck, New York-based charitable initiatives platform, We Gave What, put together a supplies drive for Honduras with Operacion Frijol, a nonprofit in Honduras that promotes youth altruism.

Leon-Gomez quickly participated.

“Volunteering has always been a priority. My school and family have instilled in me to help others since I was young. Operation Smile was one of the first organizations I started volunteering while in school and my involvement with them throughout the years has played a big role to keep creating a positive change,” said Leon-Gomez. 

“Volunteering makes me feel I am making a valuable contribution to the community, and that makes me happy. I believe that we all came into this world to help one another, show love, empathy and compassion to develop a happier world.”

Leon-Gomez noted that Operacion Frijol has been able to collect and ship four trucks and countless vehicles filled with donations, including clothes, food, shoes, medicine, toiletries, etc. In addition to the countless amounts of physical items that were donated, the organization has raised over $250,000 in two weeks with help from local and international donators.

According to Operation Smile, cleft conditions affect more people than you think. Millions of people in the world are living in low- and middle-income countries with an untreated cleft condition. And, worldwide, it’s estimated every three minutes a child is born with a cleft condition.

Operation Smile provides essential services that improve the health and dignity of patients with cleft conditions, including additional surgeries, dentistry, psychological services and speech therapy.

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