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Improv group spreads smiles 1 laugh at a time

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The Fishbowl Improv group and the Operation Smile Club collaborate during a Jan. 29 event to raise money to help children with cleft lips or cleft palates. Credit: Courtesy of Gabrielle Taphorn

The Fishbowl Improv group and the Operation Smile Club collaborate during a Jan. 29 event to raise money to help children with cleft lips or cleft palates. Credit: Courtesy of Gabrielle Taphorn

The Fishbowl Improv group partnered up with Ohio State’s Operation Smile Club in an effort to raise money for children in need of surgery for cleft lips or cleft palates.

On Friday, Fishbowl held a show in which Operation Smile collected donations for a child in need. The show could be called a success for Operation Smile because it raised enough money for a child to receive his or her surgery.

“The Fishbowl event was amazing,” said Timothy Zhu, a fourth-year in economics and president of Operation Smile at OSU. “We ended up raising $330, exceeding our goal of raising $240.”

OSU’s Operation Smile began four years ago. The organization chapter was created at OSU by Zhu. When the group was founded, he said there were only four members. Now, Operation Smile has nearly 50.

“This group is great because it’s built like a family full of students who care about the cause and love to organize events,” Zhu said. “We are also really good friends.”

Since the organization’s beginning at OSU, the group has held more than 40 events in an effort to raise money for face-reconstruction surgeries. It takes $240 to pay for the surgery of one child.

OSU’s Operation Smile has donated enough money to pay for 45 surgeries so far.

Zhu said he hopes Operation Smile and Fishbowl Improv will continue working together “until every child has a beautiful smile and until every child can live a normal life.”

Zhu said that in Operation Smile’s first year at OSU, the group raised only $60.

“Within the last four years we have raised up to around $10,000,” Zhu said.

All proceeds of OSU’s Operation Smile go to the nonprofit group’s national level, which has a network of more than 5,000 volunteers. Operation Smile has helped pay for surgeries in more than 60 countries, Zhu said.

Operation Smile’s event with Fishbowl Improv, which was free, was the fifth collaboration between the groups. Fishbowl Improv shows are held every week at the Ohio Union.

Fishbowl Improv has teamed up with many other organizations to help raise money, but Operation Smile has been the longest collaborative group, Zhu said.

“I think we fit in very well with Operation Smile,” said Erica Van Heyde, alumna and Fishbowl Improv secretary. “What they stand for is a really good cause. They show such a tangible effort.”

Not only does Fishbowl Improv put on fundraisers, it also hosts workshops to teach others how to perform improv.

“We have done workshops with Operation Smile before,” said Reid Appleby, a Fishbowl Improv member and a third-year in business management and operations. “It was a super fun opportunity. I think the workshop definitely teaches team building.”

Zhu said in an email that the most recent show and collaboration was by far the most successful, both in attendance and funds raised.

“It truly means the world to everyone at Operation Smile Club to have such a strong partnership with the extraordinary Fishbowl Improv and to laugh while spreading smiles around the world,” he said.

One comment

  1. I had a work study student who is part of Operation Smile Club. Good effort by all concerned. Keep up the good work!!!!

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