Operation Smile Club (club page)

Smiling can express many emotions– happiness, affection, gratitude. But many children around the world cannot smile confidently. The WJ Operation Smile club meets monthly on Thursdays at the Dance Studio to raise awareness and fundraisers that help children with Cleft Palate get surgery.

The Operation Smile club is a group that meets for a unique cause, to raise awareness for Cleft Palate, as the surgery is a financial burden, and or is not accessible for many children. According to CDC, Cleft Palate is a birth defect that happens when a baby’s mouth or lip does not form properly. This leaves a hole between the nose and mouth.

Senior club president Margaret Georgiv voiced that many children get bullied by how they look because of this condition. “It’s also hard for them to eat and drink, and so they can be in really bad health situations,” senior club secretary Sophia Bernat said.

They are part of the nonprofit organization Operation Smile, dedicated to helping children with Cleft Palate. They claim on their website that they are committed to providing patients surgeries, dentistry, psychological services, speech therapy and other essential cleft treatments. Operation Smile remarks that a cleft surgery can change a child’s life in just as little as 45 minutes.

The club started September 2020, and met through zoom for their first year. Georgiv approached club sponsor Janice Cornell with information about Operation Smile. “During Covid when we were all isolated at home and students asked me to be a club advisor, I felt that it was very important to help create a community belonging to an organization,” Cornell said.

Making the club was already a big step that the officers took. “Having the club itself raises awareness,” senior club vice president Isabella Bernat said.

Cornell also stated how difficult it was to fundraise during Covid, because they are usually hosted by restaurants like Chipotle. They are looking forward to having a lot more fundraisers this year. “From there a percent of everyone’s order is the money that we raise and gets sent to Operation Smile,” Georgiv said.

The club had their first interest meeting this year on Oct. 26. It was held at the Dance Studio at the beginning of lunch and they shared out their google classroom code. At their meetings, Georgiv said that they usually have a prepared presentation to share out with the group and work on organizing fundraisers or campaigns on raising awareness. “[Cleft Palate] is not something that a lot of people know about,” Isabella Bernet said.

Also, the club mentally supports children who undergo surgeries. They do this by crafting friendship bracelets and letters that comfort them. “Most of what we do is making things for the kids before or after their surgery to help them feel better,” Isabella Bernet said.

Even though Operation Smile is a new club, they have a clear and set goal to thrive towards. It is an opportunity for all students to get involved in such a special cause. “A world-wide club that has a great organization to help children with cleft palates,” Cornell said.