Sharing the Love and Sharing Inspiration: Ideas for Helping Operation Smile

Today, we’ve got an extra special post. We’ve asked three Consultants who have been successful in raising money for Operation Smile™ to share a little bit about how they do it. We know that each of you can make a difference (you already do more than you think!), and we want these three incredible women to help you know that you can do it! Holly Veselenak, Kimberly Deines, and Kelly Hammonds have been kind enough to share these thoughts with us:

Holly Veselenak, Senior Director from Macomb, MichiganLearn about the amazing efforts these women have made to help Operation Smile! #ctmh #closetomyheart #scrapbooking #operationsmile

At the 2008 Convention, I was one of a handful of Consultants that won a special luncheon with Dr. Magee and his wife, Kathy, the founders of Operation Smile.  That day I made a personal commitment to do whatever I could, locally, to help raise money and awareness for Operation Smile.

As a mom of four children, it’s heart-wrenching to imagine one of my children not being able to eat or drink due to a facial deformity and possibly even losing their life. My twin boys had TTTS (Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome), so I know what it’s like to have a doctor look you in the eyes and tell you there’s no hope for your babies. Just thinking about this brings tears to my eyes. Knowing that it only costs $240 and takes 45 minutes to perform this life-changing surgery, how can you not want to help?

I’m blessed to know some of the most generous crafters in Macomb County and the surrounding counties of Michigan. It’s through their generosity that my Operation Smile crops have been able to raise over 125 smiles (as we call it). I’m merely the facilitator—they are the true heroes!Learn about the amazing efforts these women have made to help Operation Smile! #ctmh #closetomyheart #scrapbooking #operationsmile

This will be my seventh year holding all-day crops to benefit Operation Smile. My best advice for where to start is this: Just do it, and they will come! My very first event I had two people show up. I’m not kidding! If I had let that discourage me, I would have never continued on. Tell everyone about your event even if they don’t craft, because chances are they know someone who does.

I keep my events very simple. A hall with great lighting and space for everyone to spread out is key. Plus, it’s all about the food. Trust me. 🙂 I have raffles and a grand prize showcasing the latest Close To My Heart products. I’m there to inspire, share tips on how to use Close To My Heart products, and foster a sense of community. Holding a fundraiser is great because everyone leaves filled with joy.

I wish everyone much success with their events. No matter what happens, whether you have two or two-hundred people show up, you are helping to make a difference in the life of a child!

Kimberly Deines, Director from Hudson, Colorado

Every time I watch a video about Operation Smile, it hits me way deep down inside. I’m always so taken aback, and I wish no child ever had to experience any facial deformities. But then again, it is uplifting to know that there is something that can be done to help!

I recently organized a weekend retreat at the Embassy Suites in town. I was also blessed to have seven wonderful Downline help organize the event and bring their friends. We had a total of 52 people for the weekend! Not only was this a great Team-building event, but we went to work and raised $1,408 for Operation Smile! That is almost six smiles!Learn about the amazing efforts these women have made to help Operation Smile! #ctmh #closetomyheart #scrapbooking #operationsmile

My Team members and I each donated at least $50 of Close To My Heart product to give away throughout the weekend. We sold raffle tickets for $1 each to give away these goodies. Then we all created artwork masterpieces, too, donating 21 items between the seven of us to hold a silent auction. The last thing we did was to give away a $150 gift card for the next Embassy Suites retreat we will be having later this year in November. We sold tickets for this giveaway for $10 each.

I think one thing that had a huge impact on how much generosity we saw throughout the weekend was sharing an Operation Smile video near the beginning of the event. It is easy to share what Operation Smile is verbally, but actually seeing what a child goes through by watching one of these videos is powerful.operation-smile-scrapbooking-fundraiser-kimberly-deines

To help kick things off on a fun note, I also wrote my very own left right game and personalized it for our event (this game is very popular within Close To My Heart!). Everyone loved this, and it started our weekend off with laughs and high spirits. It all added up to a very successful event for me and my wonderful Team, Heart To Heart Memories!

Kelly Hammonds, Senior Executive Manager, Phoenix, Arizona

When I made it a goal to raise funds for Operation Smile four years ago, I was actively involved in Networking Groups to promote my Close To My Heart business. For three months, I changed my focus from my business to the mission of Operation Smile. I’ve found a lot of success getting donations by talking about Operation Smile in a way that reaches people’s hearts.

Learn about the amazing efforts these women have made to help Operation Smile! #ctmh #closetomyheart #scrapbooking #operationsmile

I had the opportunity to go on an Operation Smile mission to the Philippines with Brian Holman. It was an incredible experience. This is me in the pre-operation play room.

First I talk about how a mother views their child as the most beautiful child in the world. I explain that mothers who have children with facial deformities still feel this way, but other people in their community may not: Children born with cleft lips and cleft palates in third world countries are typically shunned by their neighbors, their villages, and even by other children. Many do not go to school, cannot find work as an adult, and do not get married.

I point out that cleft lips and palates are not as prevalent in the US because our level of medical care addresses them almost immediately. I make it a point to mention famous people who had facial deformities as children—such as Stacy Keatch, Tom Brokaw, and Peyton Manning—who would not have been successful or maybe even alive if they hadn’t received medical care.

I have my guests visualize themselves as parents of an affected child, and ask how much they’d be willing to pay for their child to receive this life-saving surgery, before telling them that it only takes $240 USD to provide a surgery for a child in need. I explain that this money not only helps save their life but also helps them so they are no longer socially shunned.

Learn about the amazing efforts these women have made to help Operation Smile! #ctmh #closetomyheart #scrapbooking #operationsmile

This little girl is Angelique. I was with her from when she was evaluated to when she was able to go home after surgery.

I always wrap up with this story: My husband and I worked very hard to have the two children we have. We are so blessed that they have beautiful smiles—I don’t always like what comes out of their mouths, but I LOVE their smiles! 🙂 Because we are so thankful for our two healthy children, we donate two smiles each year so that another parent can show off their most beautiful child in the world as much as we show off ours.

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From Brian Holman: Making a Difference with Operation Smile™

Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

A few years ago, I found myself travelling to the Philippines with Close To My Heart Consultant Kelly Hammonds for a truly one-of-a-kind opportunity to be part of an Operation Smile™ medical mission. My trip coincided with Operation Smile’s 30th anniversary, and since their first mission was to the Philippines, it was somewhat of a special occasion for them. For me, it was an unforgettable experience that let me see up-close the huge difference that this organization makes.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

One of the most impressive things about Operation Smile to me is the way they incorporate local professionals into their missions. They don’t just come in and do it all themselves, but they involve local people, educating them and building up the medical establishment itself through the work they do. I find this to be such an ennobling and empowering part of what they do all around the world.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

Maybe it’s just the data geek in me talking, but I was also really impressed by the organization’s emphasis on record-keeping. When you think about the thousands of children who are being operated on every year, you can understand how important those records can be—especially when you consider that many of those children may require multiple surgeries. In the case of a child who has a cleft lip and a cleft palate, the cleft palate needs to be closed first, and then the cleft lip can be addressed in a subsequent surgery. Operation Smile’s commitment to methodical record-keeping really stood out to me as an indication of their trustworthiness and of their commitment to each individual.Read Close To My Heart COO Brian Holman's story about going to the Philippines on an Operation Smile medical mission. #ctmhsharethelove

Seeing all the people that came out in hopes of receiving medical care for their families gave me a new perspective on how big of a difference this organization makes. The level of sacrifice that the individuals made just to be there, travelling long distances, leaving family and jobs behind, really struck me. For many of these children, Operation Smile provides the only chance they may get to receive the medical attention that they need.Brian-Holman-Operation-Smile-Philippines-6

These twin brothers illustrate the level of sacrifice shown by these families. They were selected for surgery, but what you don’t see in the picture is that their mother also had a cleft lip. When the medical team offered to perform a surgery on her as well, she declined because she was the only one there to care for her boys. She was just one of many mothers who were there putting their children’s needs above their own.

Going on this mission taught me something else, too. I’m no medical professional, but even I was able to help in a small way, by helping take care of the children while they waited for their turn, and also after the surgeries. This baby’s mother was planning on staying there with her child all night without eating or resting, but since I was there, I was able to give her a break just by holding the baby while she went out to get something to eat. It was a small thing, but that’s what all of these missions come down to: small things that make a big difference.

You don’t have to be a surgeon or a nurse to help these children; you don’t have to fly around the world or even leave your house! Operation Smile takes care of those parts—all they need from us, from you and me, are donations to make it possible. Close To My Heart is committed to helping Operation Smile receive these donations. With each donation from you make, whether from rounding up your order or by purchasing this month’s special stamp set, My Acrylix® Share The Love, you are helping them, too. Thank you for helping us make a difference.Brian-Holman-Operation-Smile-Philippines-10

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Katie Colla: Some Thoughts on Giving

Katie Colla was the recipient of the Spirit of Close To My Heart award this year at Australasia Convention.
Be inspired to give back to you community— read this blog post by Katie Colla! #ctmh #closetomyheart #operationsmile #givingback #service

I am humbled to have been asked to contribute to this month’s blog post, with a piece about the act of giving.

I have pondered over what to write for weeks, as I struggled to put into words what I’d like to think were acts of kindness that most people would undertake daily.

I really am no different from any other mum, wife, or daughter. I lead a busy life with three young children, I have my own Close To My Heart business, I work as the Community Liaison Officer at our school, and I’m employed casually as an Integration Aide. But all this doesn’t mean there isn’t time for giving back or helping others!

For me, helping others comes in many forms. It might be helping with major fundraisers for community groups, a special family friend, or Operation Smile. It might be dropping off a home-cooked meal for those who might need a break from hardship or just a busy time in their life. It might be a quick little card popped into a letterbox to brighten someone’s day or just a smile and friendly face as you go on your way.

We are all leading busy lives as we cram more and more into each day, but what I would really like to express is that helping others doesn’t have to take weeks to plan or cost you your life savings. Everyday kindness to all is so important. So hold that door open for the next person, smile at the people you pass in the shopping centre, practice patience and have grace in your everyday encounters. You’ll be as blessed by the feeling it leaves you as will the people you share these moments with.

When I joined Close To My Heart and learnt of the company’s connection with Operation Smile, I immediately felt eager to support the cause. Growing up, I had crooked teeth and a huge overbite and felt self-conscious about my smile. But unlike many, I was fortunate to have great dental care that Mum and Dad worked hard for, and I was grateful for it.

My experience was nothing in comparison to how the children and families that Operation Smile works with must feel after receiving their life-changing surgeries. These surgeries are not just cosmetic but are essential to the child’s survival and nutrition.

I am so proud that I have been able to convey this to my customers who purchase our exclusive stamps and regularly round up their orders so that they can contribute to Operation Smile and help make a difference.

In May this year, my team and I held a 12-hour “MAYKE-a-SMILE WORKSHOP” where we auctioned items we had crafted by hand and held a raffle. We also included a balloon pop activity in which someone could buy a numbered balloon for $15 and receive a prize corresponding to that number. We provided dinner, and everyone enjoyed a fabulous day, knowing that we were working towards something much more than just completing our pages and cards. Together we all made a difference, raising enough money for two life-changing operations that day alone.Be inspired to give back to you community— read this blog post by Katie Colla! #ctmh #closetomyheart #operationsmile #givingback #service

Be inspired to give back to you community— read this blog post by Katie Colla! #ctmh #closetomyheart #operationsmile #givingback #service

Be inspired to give back to you community— read this blog post by Katie Colla! #ctmh #closetomyheart #operationsmile #givingback #service

Sometimes we have a bigger cause, and we can’t muster up the time, energy, or ideas to do it alone. Don’t let that deter you. Gather some like-minded, passionate friends and make a difference together.

A great example of this was the time my beautiful mum rang me, distressed that her work colleague was suffering with terminal cancer while trying to raise three children on her own. Together with a small team of ladies, I helped Mum coordinate a wonderful Ladies Night, where we raised $8,000. This wonderful outcome would never have been possible without a group of empowered women working to change another’s circumstances.Be inspired to give back to you community— read this blog post by Katie Colla! #ctmh #closetomyheart #operationsmile #givingback #service

Be inspired to give back to you community— read this blog post by Katie Colla! #ctmh #closetomyheart #operationsmile #givingback #serviceSo as we all enjoy what many see as the giving time of the year, Christmas, I ask you to consider how you can give something throughout the year. Give a smile, give a random card, give yourself to a cause and help move a mountain. Give thought and actions to those who need compassion and help bring light to the world.

Much love to all,

Katie

If you would like to know more about Operation Smile , Close To My Heart’s involvement with Operation Smile, or how to donate,  please contact your Close To My Heart Consultant today.

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Going the Extra Smile

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.

At the 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.

Faces

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!

Crop

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.

Hug

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.”

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!

Princesses

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!

Group best

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.

Operation Smile stamp set

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