HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 6, 2011 – High Point University student Alexa Crawford has found the perfect gift – one that will last a lifetime. This year, she and fellow HPU students – several of whom were born with cleft palates themselves – have started an Operation Smile chapter on the HPU campus to help fund corrective surgeries for children born with cleft lips and cleft palates worldwide.
So far, the club has raised enough money to correct three smiles. But they aren’t stopping there; they’re currently in the process of holding holiday fundraisers to correct even more smiles. During December, they sold “dry jars” of spice tea and chocolate chip cookie mix on campus to benefit the cause. They also collected items such as stuffed animals, blankets, compact mirrors tooth brushes and tooth paste which will benefit the child post-surgery, Crawford says.
“Our goal has been to host a fundraiser for every season this semester,” says Crawford. “We held a fundraiser during Halloween where we delivered bags of candy from one student to another. During Thanksgiving, our students went home and collected supplies from dentists in their area. We’ve been very busy.”
For Crawford, a sophomore at HPU, the cause hits home. Born with a cleft lip, she was able to correct the condition through insurance and incredible doctors. Her mission now is to allow others not so fortunate to be afforded the same opportunity.
“Being born with a cleft lip myself, I have always had a heart for children born with cleft lips and palates,” says Crawford. “High Point University is not only giving place, but also a place of joy. I knew we had to combine the blessing and desire of the community into one cause: Operation Smile.”
Crawford is not the only one in the club to personally experience the condition. Three more club members also were born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. Crawford says the roles of these members are to serve as an inspiration to the club, and to “keep smiling” no matter what aspects of their lives are causing them to feel down.
“By smiling at others, we bring sunshine to someone’s life that they may have not seen otherwise. Our motto is ‘creating smiles and changing lives.’ We will not only create the physical smile, but we want to empower small children from a young age through their smiles,” Crawford says. “You see, smiles are so contagious. By creating one, we create many.”
The club is seeing enormous success with more than 200 members now, and they look forward to funding more smiles throughout the year.
“At Operation Smile at HPU, we aim to not only fund smiles. We want to foster an environment where joy is the standard,” Crawford says. “We cannot give unless we have joy. And, when we have joy in giving, the giving only increases. This is the cycle we like to see. Keep an eye on us and the smiles will keep coming.”
To learn more or donate to Operation Smile on a national or international level, visit www.operationsmile.org. Also, follow the HPU Operation Smile Club on Twitter at @OperationSmileH or on Facebook at Operation Smile at High Point University.
At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.℠ HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with over 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students from 51 countries and 46 states at campuses in High Point and Winston-Salem. It is ranked by US News and World Report at No. 3 among Regional Colleges in the South. Forbes.com ranks HPU in the top 7 percent among “America’s Best Colleges.” Parade Magazine lists HPU in the top 25 private schools in the nation. HPU was selected in the 2010-2011 list of “Colleges of Distinction,” as well as one of the top green schools in the country by the Sierra Club. The university offers 50 undergraduate majors, 43 undergraduate minors and 10 graduate degree programs. It is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the Web at highpoint.edu.
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