Club members collect for Operation Smile

Photo by jessicahtam, via flickr 

Ariel Weinstein/Staff Writer 

Whether it’s joining a sorority, working a part-time job, helping to tutor students or just getting involved on campus, people usually do at least one extracurricular activity in college.

One of the clubs at the University is called Operation Smile, a nonprofit medical service organization started in 1982 based in  Virginia.

Eight students who were aware of the organization and wanted the University to participate in the fundraising started the FIU chapter in 2012. They worked hard to recruit its 70 members.

The Operation Smile Club at the University uses tactics such as canning on the street, promoting the case and also accepting donations.

At its Monday night meetings, the club invites guest speakers to explain more about the organization, often calling other schools and outreach programs to ask for donations.

In addition, the club hosts a fundraiser event every semester that is open to all University staff and students. Their last event was on Feb. 24.

The money raised is sent to the Operation Smile headquarters in Norfolk, Va. so that surgeons, dentist, hygienist, nurses and other health professionals can visit countries where people need help in fixing cleft lips and palates.

The people in these countries who suffer from these conditions are so excited and eager to have the opportunity to meet the volunteers that can provide the surgical needs they require, and hundreds of people wait in line for this chance.

This club at the University alone has raised over $5,000 in a year. One surgery costs only $240. This means that the University has provided 20 operations to people, allowing them to feel confident and beautiful.

“Members who participate in this organization will definitely feel the gratitude in doing something that is greater than anything they have done,” said Michael Somma, marketing director for Operation Smile at the University. “They will be raising awareness for something that most people do not even know what it is.”

Somma says that  this fact in itself is one of the major goals of the club, because it means that people are gaining more awareness and knowledge of the club.

“By being behind this organization when someone receives a surgery they are receiving a smile they can be proud of and that gives them the confidence to do most things they have been restricted to do before,” Somma said.

“This is very beneficial because it is a continuous organization that you can continue to be a part of for the rest of your life, and has no restrictions on what profession you are,” Somma said. 

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