The following was written by Smile Train Student Ambassador Juliana Wells about how she surpassed her fundraising goal by using her baking skills.
I knew my neighbor was the CEO of a charity, but I didn’t really know what the organization did. So, when she shared that there was a program for high school students to get involved, I told her I would check out the website to learn more. Smile Train was much bigger than I had imagined and helped children born with clefts all over the world. I also learned that celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Lucy Hale were involved. The next time I saw my neighbor, I told her that I’d gladly join the Student Ambassador program and help fundraise.
My initial fundraising goal was $500, but I had no idea how I’d raise the funds for two children to receive cleft treatment. Smile Train staff provided me with a list of fundraising ideas, and holding a bake sale really stuck out. I have loved baking for as long as I can remember, and I had a specialty — my chocolate chip cookies.
I sent a sign-up sheet around my dad’s office on which a bag of three homemade cookies was $5. I’d hoped to sell about 20 bags but was really happy when the order forms added up to 110 bags. I had met my Smile Train fundraising goal in one day!
I continued selling cookies anywhere I could. If Smile Train held an event in Long Island, I’d be there with cookies to sell. At one event, I got to meet NFL running back Kenyan Drake and Miss Teen New York.
In a few months, I had raised $1,500 through my cookies and creating a birthday fundraising page. The fundraising total meant a lot to me, but it really sunk in when I received photos of children who had recently received cleft surgery — I was amazed that doing something I enjoy had changed the lives of children for the better.
A few months ago, I didn’t know a thing about clefts, but now Smile Train means the world to me. Being a student ambassador has allowed me to do something really worthwhile with my time in high school. My new goal is to reach $2,000 by the end of the school year — I will achieve it one cookie at a time!