C’left’ with a smile

Operation Smile raises enough money to pay for 3 cleft palate repair surgeries


Submitted by Rhea Kelkar

The club holding up sock puppets that they handmade for patients during a meeting.

Arabella Villarroel, Staff Reporter

Operation Smile is a global non-profit organization founded by Dr. William Magee and his wife Kathy Magee. This medical organization provides cleft lip and palate surgeries for kids and adults in remote locations where such surgical care may not be readily available. 

Operation Smile has been very productive. This year alone they have raised around $650 for their Smile Fund, which means they can pay for the surgeries of three kids The cost of the surgery through Operation Smile is $240.

“We spread awareness for children with cleft lips or cleft palates in less developed countries who don’t have the money to pay for these conditions because every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate,” sophomore and secretary Bryan Dam said. “This can affect them for the rest of their lives but also it can also be very harmful to their health as well, so Operation Smile wants to help kids out with that.”

They also did their Sending Hope event where they were able to collect 247 bars of soap, 966 masks and 198 toothbrushes to send to patients with a cleft condition and their parents in Guatemala.

“I think getting to help other patients, other people who have this syndrome of cleft palate is very impacting and very meaningful to me,” sophomore and fundraising chairperson Riya Yarlagadda said. “All the donations that we get and all the money that we send to these countries I know it’s for a good cause and that makes me really happy. My favorite part about the club is getting together and being able to make an impact on someone else’s life.”

Another campaign they have done is a sock puppet campaign where members made hundreds of sock puppets for kids after their surgeries to have a companion and toy to help them communicate.

“Britney Dam and I started this club our junior year and we started off with about 15 members,” senior and co-president Rhea Kelkar said. “All of them were our friends but this year the club has grown so much more, and now we have about 50 members participating in the club.”

They are continuing their Smile Fund with the goal of reaching $1,200 to pay for the surgeries of five kids.

“Operation Smile has impacted me in the sense that I know I have a positive impact on people and other communities,” Dam said. “I had never really done service to help out, so this is on a different level where I feel like I am making such a great impact. It’s pushed me to do better and help out.”