Early this month, Anderson Cooper announced the 10 finalists for CNN's Hero of the Year, to be announced by Cooper on Thanksgiving Day. Impact featured these 10 stories and asked you to vote on which one was your favorite.
Leading up to the announcement, we'll be featuring individual stories on each of these 10 individuals. Leave us your comments and remember to vote in the original slideshow!
Over the past five years, Jorge Muñoz and his mother, Doris Zapata, along with his sister, Luz, have handed out more than 70,000 home-cooked meals to unemployed New Yorkers.
The recipients of the hot meals gather on a corner of the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens, New York. Many of the unemployed are day laborers, Mexican immigrants who go without work and often go without food as a result. There can be as few as a dozen or as many as 130 laborers on any given night.
Muñoz is a Columbian immigrant who drives a school bus by day. However, by night, he has provided countless men with meals, seven days a week, since 2004. He was inspired to start his mission of giving when his Columbian friends in the restaurant and food industry told him about the massive amounts of food thrown out daily by their employers. After hearing laborers, many of them from his native Columbia, relay stories of hunger, Muñoz was determined to get the leftovers to them.
His own apartment has been transformed into a sort of storage facility for the donated and bulk food, and he has often used half of his weekly salary to cover the cost of packaging and transporting the food. Two married couples now assist him with his efforts at least once a week by helping to cook and distribute food on the corner. Muñoz's aging mother suffers from arthritis and osteoporosis, so generous contributors hired a cook to alleviate the burden of daily cooking. Muñoz's work has not gone unnoticed:
Muñoz has garnered national attention for his good deed. This year, he was featured in CNN's weekly "Heroes" segment, which selects from nominations worldwide to honor "ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things" to help others. Shortly after, the New York Knickerbockers honored Muñoz during a break at a game at Madison Square Garden with their monthly Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award, which came with a $2,000 check for his nonprofit, aptly named An Angel in Queens. And in August Muñoz appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, which also made a contribution to his organization.
You can support Muñoz's nonprofit, the aptly-named An Angel In Queens, by donating here.
Check out Jorge Muñoz in our slideshow, CNN's Top Ten Heroes of 2009 and learn about nine other inspiring individuals who are making a difference.