Where there’s a will and a whole lot of people willing to help, there’s a way. And, boy, has there ever been a whole lot of people willing to help Consultant Katy Carlson with her dream to support Operation Smile through her Close To My Heart business.
Everyone who orders from Close To My Heart has the chance to donate to the Operation Smile cause, even if that donation is just a few pennies. After hearing Close To My Heart Founder & CEO Jeanette Lynton make a call to support this cause back in 2008, Katy recognized a desire within herself to make a difference and immediately got to work. Today her dream has rallied the efforts of an entire community, and together they have literally brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of children.
In 2014 alone, Katy’s crew raised and donated $19,507.96 to Operation Smile through the Close To My Heart partnership. Amazing as that is, it’s only a portion of what Katy and her community have raised for Operation Smile over the years.
So how does she do it? We decided to ask Katy about her secrets of fundraising success. She openly shared with us the tale of how it all came to be and who really makes it all possible.
What first motivated you to raise funds for Operation Smile?
I attended my first Convention in 2008 and heard Jeanette Lynton speak. Her enthusiasm for Operation Smile was so strong that I knew I was with the right company! I will never forget her saying “Ladies, if we can just get each one of you to ask every customer to round up to the nearest dollar, we, as a company, can make such a difference in the lives of others!” Before I left that general session, I knew that I wanted to do an Operation Smile benefit crop.
How did you rally others to contribute to this accomplishment?
That first year, when I was sharing what I had learned from Convention with my Team, I introduced my hope of doing an Operation Smile benefit crop. Immediately everyone wanted to be a part of it; it has been a MeriMajesties Team effort from the start. Since then, it has honestly taken on a life of its own, with not just Team members participating, but also many customers, friends, St. Bernadette school children, and church and youth group members helping out.
The crops were originally a one-day event at a local church that donated space to us for the first three years. In 2011, a local crop owner told me that she had arranged for us to use her hotel location for the Operation Smile crop and had even arranged for the hotel to give us a discounted price for the meeting room. That year we doubled in size and more than doubled the donations from the previous year.
We have also received many product donations. My basement, to my husband’s chagrin, is now a warehouse full of boxes. Cheryl Menders, a generous woman who was in the last stages of breast cancer, donated a 28-foot trailer full of scrapbook supplies for us to give to attendees—enough to supply generous gifts for everyone for the next seven crops!
We use other donations for our auctions. We create baskets full of handcrafted items to be sold at our silent auction, and the best of what we receive is set aside for the live auction.
The Best Western Hotel in Leesburg, VA, where we hold the crop, is amazing! They donate a night’s stay to be auctioned off, and the general manager at the hotel has personally sponsored half of one child’s surgery every year. Truly, this Operation Smile event is a COMMUNITY event!
I am grateful to Avis Latimer, Sandy Herring, and Tamara Wainer for their great help last year, and look forward to their help again this year.
This young girl is Sarah (whose mom, Heidi, is also a Close To My Heart Consultant). She made rubber band art—bracelets, charms, and other 3-D items—and sold it at the crop to help raise money for Operation Smile. The photo was taken as she let me know that she didn’t raise $80 as she had previously told me, but $240—she actually had sold them at school for months before to earn money for Operation Smile. There was not a dry eye in the room! For our next crop, Sarah and her sister, Jessica, are making a quilt with their grandmother to donate.
MeriMajesties Team members are crowned “queens” when they bring eight or more participants to the crop. Those who organize a group of four are crowned “princesses.”
Do you plan on raising more funds in coming months and years? If so, how do you plan to do it?
At each crop we’ve always provided the dates for the following year’s event (with registration form available), and for the past two years, we’ve sold out for the following year’s event before the crop was even finished. This year we actually have two crops scheduled, both in April, to accommodate all who wish to attend. We plan to have two crops for the next two years as well, so I can empty out our basement!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to raise funds for Operation Smile through Close To My Heart?
Personally, I would encourage everyone to begin by following Jeanette’s advice: round up every order to the nearest dollar for Operation Smile! I have discovered that almost everyone is willing to do so when invited, and if every person did so, we, as a company, would truly be a fund-raising force!
Seeing this kind of service brings huge smiles to our faces. We applaud you, Katy, for your outstanding, selfless work. We are so proud to call you one of our own. May the years ahead be full of success…and lots of smiles for both the recipients and the givers!
Coming April 1, we will have a new Operation Smile benefit stamp set. When you purchase this set, we donate $3 of the proceeds to Operation Smile. Contact your Independent Consultant to purchase this stamp set and donate to Operation Smile at the same time.
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