As a freshman at Barnard College of Columbia University, I was excited to find out how easy it really is to become involved on campus. During the first week of school, I contacted the President of Columbia's Operation Smile Club, CU Smile, and because of my past involvement with and current enthusiasm concerning Operation Smile, I became the Treasurer of the club! :) As Treasurer, I co-lead Operation Smile's table at Barnard's Activities Fair today, where I told fellow students about Operation Smile and encouraged them to join the club. After being in charge of CU Smile's table today, I came up with a few strategies that I wanted to share with all of our readers who are also in charge of their OpSmile table at their school's club fair!
As an advocate for Operation Smile, it is crucial to not only focus on acting enthusiastic and motivated about the cause, but to also try to spread as much awareness as possible. I did this by wearing one of my Operation Smile shirts (V E R A N A S U M M E R S) and giving one to CU Smile's president to also wear during the Fair. This enthusiasm should also be used in the way officers persuade other students to join the club. Every time I had eye contact with a student, I immediately shouted, "Would you like to learn more about Operation Smile?" It's definitely important to have posters already taped onto your club's table with before and after photos of children who have received surgery so that the students you are reaching out to will see them and be encouraged to learn more about the organization.
A few pointers of what to tell students who want to learn more about OpSmile:
-Briefly explain the main activities of OpSmile (ex: OpSmile sends volunteering surgeons to third world countries to give free surgery to children with cleft lip and cleft palate facial deformities)
-State difficulties that children with cleft deformities might face, and then talk about how OpSmile changes the lives of these children so easily (ex: 1 in 10 children with cleft deformities will not live until their first birthday, but Operation Smile really works hard to change this by providing a $240 45 minute surgery to those children who really need it)
-Present the activities that the club will engage in to raise awareness and money for OpSmile (ex: We will be running a coin drive, night, and a run; in addition to inviting a speaker to come)
-Talk about how easy it is to get involved (ex: We only have meetings once a month)
-Discuss the benefits of joining the club for the member (ex: If you become really involved, you will have the opportunity to attend an Operation Smile medical mission)
It's also extremely important to have brochures about Operation Smile and multiple before-and-after photographs of the patients. I also thought it was helpful to place a Coinstar can on the table, in addition to offering papers that students can take with them when they leave the table. For this, I handed out both copies of my mission story as well as Smile Cards (thank you, James Reid). Smile Cards are tiny fliers that officers can give to interested students. They have a before-and-after photograph of a patient on one side, and that patient's story on the other. Officers can also put information about their clubs on these cards, like meeting date, time, location, etc.
I hope that our readers will be able to use these tips! If you have any other questions please contact me or Alexandra!