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Jacksonville couple helps 25 volunteer Operation Smile missions on World Kindness Day

The couple has helped thousands of patients in China, India, Egypt, Madagascar, and their home country of the Philippines.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — November 13 is World Kindness Day, and a Jacksonville couple exemplifies just that.

The two have volunteered on more than two dozen missions as part of Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that surgically repairs cleft lips and palates in children. 

The couple has helped thousands of patients in China, India, Egypt, Madagascar, and their home country of the Philippines. They say the children's smiles are infectious.

“Some parents don’t actually allow their kids to go out of their homes. Others are not able to go to school because of the bullying," Marijose Kapunan said. 

Marijose Kapunan and her husband Rodney literally put a smile on the faces of those kids and their parents by traveling the world as Operation Smile volunteer nurses. 

“When the parents are actually in the recovery room, they will cry after seeing their kids transform," Marijose Kapunan said. "They say, ‘Is this my kid?’ They’ll come in and say, ‘Oh my God! My child is beautiful!”

Rodney Kapunan grew up in poverty in the Philippines and is now giving back to the people in his home country. 

“Those poor people need a break, and without Operation Smile, they would not be able to afford this kind of operation," Rodney Kapunan said. 

The Kapunans say there more than two dozen combined trips are just the beginning and they plan on continuing to give back.

“I would love to continue volunteering maybe 20, 30, 40 years from now," Marijose Kapunan said. 

The couple has this message for the First Coast on World Kindness Day. 

“Kindness is free. Just be kind to one another. It makes a lot of difference to one person," Marijose Kapunan said. 

“The only way for us to feel blessed is to be able to spread the love and to be able to spread the blessings," Rodney Kapunan said.