Jorge Munoz (right, white shirt), family, Yankees ballplayers Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda (back row left to right).Adry Torres
Jorge Munoz gestures after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium, Tuesday, June 26, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Munoz was honored for his work feeding the hungry as part of the Yankees' HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) week. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)AP2012
NEW YORK – Blanca Zapata recalled the day in Colombia when her then-seven year old son disobeyed her.
As the family sat eating at the table, she heard a knock on the door. Zapata answered the door to man politely begging for something to eat. After telling him to come back later and walking back to the table, her son did the unthinkable.
He got up and offered the man his mean.
Helping others is something that Muñoz has done all his life and everywhere he has lived, from Colombia to New York.
"He's had big heart since he was a little kid, that's just not from now,” Zapata told Fox News Latino. “He didn't mind staying at the table with out his plate of food.”
On Tuesday morning players from the New York Yankees surprised Muñoz at his home in the Woodhaven section of Queens to acknowledge his service to the community as part of the organization's HOPE Week 2012.
Look at everything that is happening just for only giving away food for free. For me it's very simple.
- Jorge Muñoz
The program known as Helping Others Persevere & Excel was founded back in 2009 and has been a staple of the storied franchise's way to personally engage with individuals that serve as an inspiration to the world.
They've continued a tradition that the late George Steinbrenner worked on and kept under the wraps throughout his years as owner of the Yankees.
“You know my father was such a huge believer in giving back and he did it very quietly. A lot of people never knew until after he died of what all he did because he said if more than two people knew you were doing it, you were doing it for the wrong reasons,” Jenny Steinbrenner told Fox News Latino.
Yankees Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Hideki Kuroda and Boone Logan showed up at Muñoz's home carrying bags of rice and cooking oil in preparation of a meal that would serve somewhere around 140 people, from day laborers struggling to get a hot meal at night to the unemployed person fighting to barely make ends meet.
Under the supervision of Muñoz, his mother, sisters and a friend, the four ballplayers got down to business in the kitchen trading their gloves and bats for kitchen knives, pots and pans to prepare a meal of chorizo, white rice and lentils.
As Jorge's sister, Luz stood in a cramped kitchen on the first floor of the house, Kuroda stood near a counter peeling potatoes and slicing them up while Cano made sure the fire under the pots of lentils and rice was correctly lit.
Cano was elated with what Muñoz has come to accomplish over the years and especially even after he was laid off from his driver's position at Varsity Bus Company last year in December after being on the job for six years.
It's a custom that Muñoz has been repeated over and over with the help of volunteers too, handing out over 170,000 meals.
It all started back on May 2004 when he came upon a group of day laborers that were having trouble getting some food. From there on out the amount people that Muñoz has served over the years have multiplied on a daily basis withstanding heat waves, rain, snow storms and the freezing cold.
He called his charitable work “a mission from God” that his family accepted eight years ago.
Muñoz was joined later in the evening by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, members of the team's front office and previous HOPE Week honorees to hand out the meals.
“Look at everything that is happening just for only giving away food for free," he said. "For me it's very simple. For us it's very simple but all of a sudden it's about how people see it and the way they show you love. They're giving me love, I'm giving love out.”
While Muñoz thanked the four Yankee stars and the team for their $10,000 donation to fund his foundation, Cano said Muñoz was the real star for everything he's been doing in the community.
“It was a great experience, really. You hear about the story but don't know what it's about until you're faced with the moment and we had the chance to go to his house today. You see how he cooks for so many people. He's from a poor family, sacrificing a part his salary. Not only his but his family's. And for him to dedicate time every night to all of those people and take food to people that he doesn't even know and every time it keeps growing more and more,” Cano said.
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc