Say “Smile!” New service club comes to campus

Nicholas Zotos | Social Media & Ads Manager | Ava Bonita, a member of the Delta Delta Sigma sorority, helped prepare gift bags at the university's first Operation Smile volunteer opportunity Jan. 26.

Nicholas Zotos | Social Media/Ads Manager

Feb. 2, 2023

A new service organization is bringing smiles to campus.

On Jan. 26, students met in Rockwell Hall to take part in the first philanthropy event for Duquesne’s newest service club, Operation Smile.

Operation Smile is a longstanding organization that has been helping children diagnosed with a cleft palate and other facial deformities for over four decades, since 1982, according to the nonprofit’s national website.

As one of the largest medical, volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers and has provided a significant amount of free surgeries, their website said. This semester, Operation Smile has started a new branch of its organization right here at Duquesne.

Aniston Glemba, sophomore business major, is co-president of Duquesne’s Operation Smile and explained how the event last Thursday was helping the greater national goals of the organization.

“We are here today to help those who have a unique situation in their lives…those who have cleft palate conditions often have unique dental situations. While the contribution may be a smile, it is our hope that this event makes a difference to those affected,” Glemba said.

At the event, around 25 participating volunteers packaged toothbrushes and toothpaste into hand-decorated bags designed with personal positive messages. Many were from the professional pre-dental society that meets here at Duquesne, Delta Delta Sigma (DDS), who worked in conjunction with Operation Smile to plan the event.

“Coloring the paper bags makes each one unique,” said Ava Bonita, a sophomore biology student who was in attendance for DDS.

“These kids that are having cleft palate surgery are going through a long journey. They want to feel special. I know that a toothbrush and a toothpaste may not seem like a lot, but it is a start.”

Many other participants shared Bonita’s sentiment, as the event was packed with those uniquely decorating their own individual bags.

Many DDS-affiliated volunteers stayed at the end of the meeting for an opportunity to learn more about the new club.

Aaron Dininick, junior health science major and co-president of Operation Smile, recognized the service organization as a way for students in the dental field to maintain values outside of the classroom.

“For Duquesne, there was not really a place for pre-dental students. This provides an outlet for them,” Dinnick said. “I am really excited to expand upon this club. We should be doing more events later in the year and reaching out for more to participate.”

Operation Smile is looking for new members and campus organizations to partner with for future events.

Those interested in joining the club or volunteering with them should visit their page on Campus Link.

Individuals do not need to be pre-dental to join the club, all those with a passion for helping others are invited to join.

“Even though we just established this club, we are recruiting,” Dinnick said. “The event today was a large success and we are hoping to spread the word out about Operation Smile. This club is unique, and I think that others who join will have a great time partaking in both community and fellowship.”