peration Smile, a nonprofit medical organization with local chapters including one at Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS), raises funds to provide free surgeries for children suffering from facial deformities such as cleft lips or cleft palates. The group aspires to initiate and spread generosity and love to heal people’s smiles worldwide.
A cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth and affects one in 700 babies annually. It is the fourth most common birth defect in the United States and occurs when there are insufficient amounts of tissue around the mouth and lip area during pregnancy, which causes lips to not develop properly.
Though these conditions cannot be prevented, due to genetic and environmental factors, they are treatable with medical procedures that cost around $240. Unfortunately, parents in many countries are unable to afford such procedures and the clefts can cause great discomfort to children and prevent them from being able to smile or eat properly. Thus, Operation Smile reaches out to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds to treat it.
Clubs at local high schools join in spreading awareness and help to earn money to donate to the organization. At CVHS, fundraising events are actively held throughout the year and include events like bake sales, recycling, t-shirt sales, or gift wrapping at Barnes and Noble.
Members of the club work together to personally design shirts to raise profit, and club president Laura Yoon told JSR that “the [t-shirt] money goes to the [international] organization.”
CVHS sophomore Juri Lee, the school club’s publicist, told JSR, “Our club is a small club so we actually get to know each other, and feel more accomplished when we raise a lot of money at the end of the semester.”