What a Difference a Smile Makes

Viral smile project nets funds for precious surgeries

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Ruth Kaiser
    Students at Rheem Elementary in Moraga hand over a check for $1,322.50 for Operation Smile to Ruth Kaiser, the founder of Spontaneous Smiley.

    Several Bay Area sudents spent their winter break doing their part to spread smiles to those in need.

    Instead of hanging around the house watching video games and complaining about boredom during their time off during the holidays, students from all over Moraga fanned out in search of smiles ... spontaneous ones, that is.

    The kids at Rheem Elementary participated in the first-ever Smile-a-Thon, a joint effort between Operation Smile and Spontaneous Smiley -- two groups making a difference and lifting spirits around the world.

    Orinda's Ruth Kaiser started the Web site Spontaneous Smiley as a way to gather pictures of random happy faces in everyday objects. People around the world upload pictures of smileys they spot on everything from food to fire hydrants.

    The premiere Smile-a-Thon was a huge success and the kids handed Kaiser a check for $1,322 in pledges they gathered from sponsors. The money will help volunteer doctors with Operation Smile repair the faces of five children who have cleft palates, lips  and other facial deformities.

    Kaiser is elated, expressing her gratitude to us in a news release:

    Five children who now struggle to speak, will be able to talk with ease for the first time! (and laugh and sing and whistle and make a racket.) Five children who now struggle to eat, will have a world of new foods to taste and enjoy! (and be picky eaters not because they can’t eat but because they’re kids.) Five children who now hide their faces in public, will proudly join their community (many will finally be able to attend school.) Five Mommies and Daddies whose hearts have been very, very sad for a very long time, will feel a gratitude for your generosity that can not be put into words.

    Like a happy attitude hard to contain, the Smile-a-Thon is spreading. As a result of the successful pilot Smile-a-Thon, students around the country will also be launching Smile-a-Thons in the near future.