Concordia College recently gained another student organization, called Concordia College Operation Smile.

Concordia College Operation Smile is a branch of the larger Operation Smile Organization, one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide through surgical care.

Concordia’s Operation Smile was started by a group of five students. John Huebner is the president, Wyatt Lautt the vice president, McKenzie Lautt the secretary, and Mitch Mackner the treasurer.

“It’s an organization that sends oral surgeons over to third-world countries to perform surgeries on children with cleft palate and cleft lip and they also teach different hygiene and dental issues. Doctors from mostly the United States, but also around the world go around and perform these surgeries,” McKenzie Lautt said.

According to the Operation Smile website, it was founded in 1982 by Dr. William P. Magee Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife Kathleen, a nurse. It all started with a volunteer group to the Philippines.

Concordia students don’t perform the surgeries themselves; instead, they provide support behind the scenes.

“We help by raising money to send them over there,” McKenzie Lautt said.

The idea for the organization started over Christmas break last year.

“My aunt is pretty big into Operation Smile so that’s how I got the idea. I just thought it would be a good club to have on campus,” Huebner said.

Other members of Concordia College Operation Smile agree with Huebner.

“I think it’s a worthy cause to be a part of,” McKenzie Lautt said.  “And after seeing what operation smile is about and how it can change lives we all really felt passionate about this and wanted to be able to make a difference.”

The students did research on Operation Smile before moving forward with the process of creating a student organization. Once they saw the impact that the global nonprofit had on children all over the world, they decided that creating Concordia College Operation Smile was something small they could do to help out.

“I wanted to become involved in the Operation Smile club on campus because it seemed like a great way to be able to help people around the world while having fun doing it.” Wyatt Lautt said.

The student organization is still figuring out what events they’d like to plan.

“We are in the early stages of planning fundraisers such as a campus volleyball tournament, tailgating for a football game, and a talent show.” Wyatt Lautt said. “The main goal that we have for the organization is to establish enough fundraisers so that we are able to raise enough money to fund ten cleft lip surgeries.”

Each surgery costs around $240. “Our goal this year is to raise about 2,400 which would be about ten kids’ lives changed so we thought that’s so obtainable so why not help these kids out,” McKenzie Lautt said.

“We still have leadership roles to fill and we would love people to check out this organization to see if it is something they would want to be a part of. Anyone is welcome,” Wyatt Lautt said.

The organization currently has no official member base. “We’re working on recruitment right now and getting more people to join and become interested in it,” McKenzie Lautt said.

To find out more about Concordia’s Operation Smile, find them on Facebook or email John Huebner at jhuebner@cord.edu or McKenzie Lautt at mlautt@cord.edu.