By Inter-American Division Staff, courtesy Adventist Review

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists assisted more than 771,000 people in 50 Venezuelan cities with a touch of kindness, a helping hand, and a message of hope in a single week.

Church leaders say the effort — dubbed, “Close to You Venezuela: Smile, God Believes in You” — is the biggest since the outreach program began in the eastern part of the economically struggling country in 2012.

“This has been a great breakthrough for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Venezuela,” said Moises Prieto, program coordinator in the church’s East Venezuela Union. “In the four years that the initiative has taken place, we have seen how God has blessed us and how our heroic volunteers have given the best of themselves to help the community.”

Nearly 27,000 Adventist volunteers participated in dozens of coordinated activities from Aug. 7 to 13, including blood donation drives, tree planting in abandoned parks and other areas, the distribution of food baskets, the repair of recreational areas, free medical checkups, hospital and nursing home visitations, donations of hair for children and women with cancer, Vacation Bible Schools for children, health talks, and exercise activities.

Thousands of young people stood by traffic lights to share smiles and the message of God’s love, Prieto said. Volunteers aimed to collect pictures of smiling people to create a display of 1 million smiles on social media.

The initiative received wide coverage on national television, radio, and print and social media.

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