More than $50,000 — that’s how much students across the United States have rallied for Operation Smile since World Smile Day in October, and all through the use of their Smile Fund webpages.
As each surgery can cost as little as $240, it could be said that this campaign led by student volunteers will go on to help about 200 people receive the care they need. And as the total continues to creep upwards, this number is just the start.
Mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges, Student Programs kicked off the 2020 school year with its online Smile Fund campaign, which encourages clubs to fundraise for surgeries virtually — and, most importantly, safely.
This means that clubs all sizes, legacy and location have had to get a little creative in order to channel their kindness.
Nina says her club at Ocean Lakes High School may be on the smaller side, but their recent fundraiser shows just how mighty they are: Their virtual Walk for Smiles fundraiser rallied almost enough for four surgeries.
“I believe our secret is BLAST it everywhere,” Nina told us by email. “We had our members send texts, emails, and posts on all social media platforms. We’ve provided them with a template and flier, so it was pretty straight forward from there. It was also one of the first virtual ‘events’ at my school, so a lot of people wanted to do something after doing nothing for a long time.”
The Virginia Beach, Virginia, club started their Smile Fund hoping to provide three smiles, Nina said, but thanks to their Walk for Smiles success, they upped their goal.
Like the Ocean Lakes club, fellow Virginia Beach student volunteers at Cape Henry Collegiate found that making surgeries possible can be as simple as just spreading the word.
When they rallied more than $500 in their Smile Fund in just one week, club leader Katherine attributed their success to one key effort: school-wide awareness.
“The way that we chose to fundraise for the Smile Fund was to ensure everyone in the community was involved and knew what was going on,” she told us by email. “We put a small article and the link in our school’s ‘Dolphin Digest,’ which is a newsletter that gets sent out every Sunday to all the parents of Cape Henry students. The article gave a little bit of information about what the Smile Fund is, and then at the end of the paragraph, we put ‘Click on the link below to help or simply learn more about Operation Smile.’
While they might be a new club, the club at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Maryland has already made a big impact through the Smile Fund campaign.
By encouraging members to share their Smile Fund link to family and friends, they exceeded their goal and raised more than $1,000.
But their kindness doesn’t stop there, of course: They’ve also been busy creating hospital gowns and friendship bracelets for our patients.
Our friends at Scarsdale High School in New York also doubled their impact with fundraisers and service projects.
Not only have they held a food drive and other initiatives for their community, but their club has rallied almost four surgeries in their Smile Fund in 2020.
Their kindness was what made this possible: We’re told the majority of the funds were raised by club members who asked for donations to Operation Smile during the 2020 holiday season instead of gifts. They also hosted a really clever fundraiser — a Thanksgiving turkey decorating competition!
We want to hear your Smile Fund stories! Share your story and we’ll add it to this story here!