Spreading Smiles

Operation Smile is dedicated to funding surgeries and raising awareness for children who have craniofacial abnormalities

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Spreading Smiles
Operation Smile has been at Kean since Fall 2009.
Shannon Sheehan, Staff Writer

There are many student groups at Kean that raise money and awareness for certain causes, however, one that stands out is Operation Smile. This organization came to Kean in the Fall of 2009, and is dedicated to educating the community on children who have a cleft palate, cleft lip and other cranio-facial abnormalities around the world in developing countries.

Operation Smile spends the whole year dedicated to funding and raising awareness for this cause. Their impact is worldwide, as their funds support children across the globe.

A cleft palate or lip is a slit on the upper lip that creates an opening in one's face. These happen to unborn babies as a result of being underdeveloped, and are one of the most common birth defects. These abnormalities can result in eating and speaking difficulties, dental complications and more.

Students participating in Operation Smile's puppet making event.

While this organization is open to all Kean students, a lot of speech hearing science majors feel that this club hits closest to home because it is within their academic content area. Children that have to face having a cleft lip, cleft palate or other cranio-facial abnormalities also struggle with communication. They require speech pathologists to help them with their speech, feeding and overall quality of life. In fact, the entire executive board have this major, which makes them even more passionate about Operation Smile.

Every semester, Operation Smile sets a goal for their organization to achieve. This time around, they want to raise enough money for five life-changing surgeries. Each procedure is $240, making their goal total $1,200. They aim to do this through different functions and fundraisers, and they will hopefully surpass their goal to change even more children's and their families' lives.

This organization is very active on campus in order to reach and surpass their goals. Their general body meetings are every third Tuesday of the month. Additionally, they often have bake sales to raise funds for their goal. Their upcoming bake sale dates are as follows:

  • Oct. 23 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the East Campus Lobby
  • Nov. 7 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Miron Student Center Atrium
  • Dec. 9 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 in the East Campus Lobby
  • These puppets are used by Speech Pathologists as they aid children in learning to speak after their surgeries.

Another event they host frequently is Sock Puppet Making. At this event, students participate in making sock puppets that are then shipped to different countries. Not only does this brighten up the child's day, but speech-language pathologists also use these as tools to help children with their speech. These puppets are often used post-operation, as the child is learning to talk again.

President Jackie Portnoy said, "Being a part of Operation Smile gives us a purpose beyond ourselves to help support the lives of others. We dedicate our effort and time to providing as much as we can for those children in any way possible. While doing that, we build a bond between each of the members in the club that connects all of us together."

To learn more about Operation Smile, be sure to check out their Cougar Link page or attend one of their events!

about the author

Shannon Sheehan, Staff Writer

Shannon Sheeehan is a Junior Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. She joined The Cougar's Byte staff in Spring 2018. After her time at Kean, Shannon hopes to start her professional career in Public Relations and/or Social Media.