Thursday, January 17, 2013

Operation Smile 2013

One of our most well attended projects for the last few years has been our Operation Smile sewing extravaganza.  We organize the event by providing the fabric, notions, a light lunch, and childcare.  We partner with the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who provide the space, and together we sew hospital gowns, smile dolls, and smile bags for young cleft palate surgery patients.

Before, during and after our January 17th event, we've logged about 250 service hours provided by 22 club members, 4 friends of club members, and 26 women from the church group.  It's interesting that many new club members mention Operation Smile as the first BWC event they ever attended.

Here's a glimpse of what it takes to pull off an event like this.

It starts with lots of shopping, buying yards and yards of bargain fabrics.  Then you have to find women who enjoy are willing to iron.  Liz and Janet spent many hours pressing fabric, gowns and bags.  Janet also proved to be a very efficient quality control gown inspector.  From now on she will be known as Inspector #8.

Then you need expert gown cutters like Wanda and Nora.  They love doing this together.  Nora, we're going to miss you!  Wanda, we expect you to come next year to train the next generation of gown cutters.

You need lots of people with sewing machines, especially people like Valeri and Brenda, who love to sew and are fast!  They each took things home to finish too.

You need women of all ages helping out, like Chelsea and Lucia, because it's just more fun that way!

You need enthusiastic people like Maura-Lee to rally the sewing troops and make things way more fun.  She even helped with clean up and it wasn't even 'her' event.

With all of those things in place you can make 54 hospital gowns.  Okay, truth be told, we made 38 gowns this year, we finished 5 from last year, and 11 gowns mysteriously appeared out of nowhere.

To make smile dolls you need lots of skin tone fabrics and lots of volunteers who are willing to trace the doll pattern onto the fabric and cut them out.

You need women like Jean and Pam who are willing to cut out these dolls even if it gives them creepy doll nightmares.

You need women like Barbara and Kristin who are willing to sew the tiny curvy seams on these dolls.  I hope we didn't scare them away for next year!

Pat and Gail

Jackie and Betty

You definitely need a big table of BWC members and their friends like Marcie and Jan, who enjoy being together, to stuff and sew up the dolls.

We also needed Mary who wasn't able to attend the event due to a surgery.  After the event she stuffed and sewed up 16 of these dolls and made a few gowns too.  We ended up with a total of 77 dolls.

We also made 46 smile bags.  It's unfortunate that we don't have a picture of Diane who spent the entire four hours cutting out all 46 of these bags by herself.  What a trooper!

We owe a HUGE thanks to Liz Allman, who watched all the wee ones while their moms sewed.  She was completely exhausted at the end of the four hours.  Thank you Liz!

It's hard to believe that all that effort was squished into two medium sized boxes, which were sent off to the Operation Smile headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.  According to their donation inventory forms, here's the value of our donation:
  • 54 hospital gowns valued at $270.00
  • 77 smile dolls valued at $385.00
  • 46 smile bags valued at $92.00
Total donation:  177 items valued at $747.00

We also sent a check for $600.00 to go towards cleft palate surgeries.  That should cover 2.5 surgeries.  Go here if you'd like to make a personal donation.