MC Operation Smile Makes Bracelets for a Cause

by Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor

MC Operation Smile is holding the Beloved Bracelets fundraiser throughout the month of February to raise money for children who are born with cleft lip or cleft palate worldwide by selling bracelets to students in Kelly Commons.

The mission of MC Operation Smile is to raise as much money possible every semester to contribute to the smile fund, where all proceeds go to organizations for surgeries or research purposes. Each reparative surgery is around 240 dollars, so fundraising makes a huge impact on the ability for these surgeries to be performed.

“The mission follows the nonprofit organization Operation Smile,” Shayla Gramajo, junior biology major and president of MC Operation Smile, said. “They’re an international organization that benefits many children all around the world, from places like underserved countries, places where safe surgeries aren’t usually accessible. So that really strikes home to me.”

Each bracelet that is being sold for this cause is handmade by junior biology major and club historian, Stephanie Fandino Leison. Bracelets can be customized, especially with Valentine’s Day being the overall theme of the month.

This is just one of many fundraisers MC Operation Smile has organized, which includes 5K walks, previous bracelet sales, and apple cider donut sales. All of the proceeds from these events go directly to their smile fund. For the bracelets, they thought it would be a good idea to have a tangible item for those donating to keep during these virtual times.

“We were trying to think of a way in which we can really increase the amount of participants in the fundraiser. And it’s kind of hard now with everything being remote, and you know, some people are on campus and some people are not,” Stephanie Zandel, junior allied health major and fundraising coordinator of MC Operation Smile, said. “So then we thought, while our past fundraisers were remote or with very minimal contact, we thought this time, maybe we should do a table set-up on campus.”

Holding fundraisers in a manner that allows students and faculty to purchase the items online or in person helps to increase the interactivity with their club to the campus community.

These fundraisers are also incredibly important to promote safe surgeries for children around the globe with cleft lip or cleft palate. The surgeries performed minimize health risks and offer a more healthy lifestyle for these children.

“I think that this is more of a universal health care right. We talk a lot about Human Rights Day and this is just a basic human need because the surgeries are helping children drink anything or eat their food, and that is so essential,” Fandino Leison said.

Along with the important fundraising mission of the club, MC Operation Smile emphasizes the importance of volunteering on campus.

“The club is really important because it gives people a way to volunteer actively with a club, especially a club that is, you know, is actively trying to give back to their community and give back to these children who oftentimes don’t have the privileges that we do,” Gramajo said. 

MC Operation Smile is able to look at the mission’s forum and see stories of families they and other colleges have helped through fundraising. 

“They email all of the colleges, and they kind of feature our fundraiser events, they feature everybody as well. But, they do share some stories about children who are receiving these surgeries, and we do see pictures of their families, and the before and after pictures. But of course, you know, it has been delayed because of the pandemic,” Gramajo said. “But they’re still working to focus on these surgeries.” 

The work of clubs on campus like MC Operation Smile helps contribute to society in a valuable way. Students are able to use their abilities to make a change and pave the way for the next generation of students to continue this legacy. 

“I think it’s very rewarding to give back and think that I directly, positively impacted the lives of disadvantaged children or children who otherwise wouldn’t get these surgeries without the fundraising we’re doing,” Zandel said. “You’re really reducing their health risks, which I think is very important and it kind of holds true to the type of impact I want to have in the future because I want to do pediatric nursing.”

The Beloved Bracelets sale can be found in Kelly Commons during the week of February 22nd to the 25th, or can be accessed online for orders through their venmo @MCOpSmile.