Five Steps to Starting Your School Year With a Smile

The new school year is upon many of us, and while it’s going to look different, rest assured we’re here and eager to support you and your club. As you prep for the school year, here are some easy ways to kick off your school year with Operation Smile.

Step 1: Connect with your Associate

Operation Smile Student Programs has staff members around the world who are devoted to helping you and your club thrive. These regional associates are here to help you with anything you might need — from offering club advice to helping with your service projects and fundraisers.

That’s why we recommend this as your first step: Once you have your associate in your corner, you can’t go wrong. 

Western Region:

Southern Region:

Northern Region:


Latin America and the Caribbean:


Step 2: Start a Club

Kicking off an Operation Smile club at your school is a natural way to get even more people involved and spread smiles in your school and beyond. But where do you start? In the video above, our longtime student volunteers — Nick Ciuffreda of New Jersey and Mara Dempsey of Virginia — have four pointers to help you build your legacy.

Step 3: Register Your Club

Sure, we know registering your club can seem like just another task to check off your to-do list. But, trust us, it’s much more than that.

By registering your club, you’re officially joining our global family. We can reach out and support your efforts. We can get to know you and your club members. We can connect you with other Operation Smile student volunteers and club in your region.

Step 4: Arrange a Service Project

One of the most effective ways to make a direct impact for the organization is to hold a service project for Operation Smile. Longtime student volunteers Amanda Lonergan of New Jersey and Nadia Farashahi of Virginia made the above video to offer up three tips for starting your project.

Step 5: Consider a Smile Fund

Essentially, a Smile Fund is like a GoFundMe for Operation Smile. It’s an easy and effective way to fundraise the cost of surgeries for our patients around the world. And since a surgery can cost as little at $240, your Smile Fund has the potential to make a difference for many people!

Given the mostly-digital world we’re living in these days, having a Smile Fund on hand is especially helpful: Your supporters can contribute to our cause without having to give cash or gather in person. And it all goes to Operation Smile, no mailing checks or managing accounts!


BONUS: Start #ServingSmiles

Since April, our student volunteers have been bringing Operation Smile’s global spirit of service to their communities through our #ServingSmiles initiative.

To show our love and appreciation for health care workers during this challenging time, we’ve delivered almost 4,000 meals to hospital workers in nine U.S. states as well as Panama and Paraguay. In the process, we began to see how families were affected by the pandemic. In May, we kicked off our Families4Families effort: We teamed up with schools and churches to bring meal kits to low-income families in Hampton Roads, Virginia, where Operation Smile is headquartered. In just a couple months, we’ve provided about 15,000 meals for about 200 families.

If you’re interested in bringing these efforts to your community, refer to Step One in this guide and discuss it with your regional associate! This person will help you get started!