Operation Smile

"We dream of a world where no child suffers from lack of access to safe surgery."

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 when Dr. William (Bill) P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen (Kathy), a nurse and clinical social worker, traveled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children's cleft lips and cleft palates.

What they found was overwhelming. In Naga City, approximately 300 families arrived hoping their children would receive surgery, but the team could only treat 40 children. As they prepared to leave, the Magees made a promise they would return to help more children.

Smile Bags

After receiving surgery, each child receives a Smile Bag, the perfect gift to cheer up a healing child.

Smile Bags are filled with small personal care items as well as toys, stickers and a mirror to see their new smile. We need community volunteers to collect personal care items and sew cloth Smile Bags.

Operation Smile is in need of the following items to include in a patient's Smile Bag:

  • Small shampoo (.85 to 1.4 oz size, screw-on top only)
  • Small comb (no rat tails)
  • New wash cloth
  • Bar of soap (small hotel size)
  • Travel-sized toothpaste (at least 6 months from expiration date)
  • Child-sized toothbrush (single package)
  • Small stuffed animal (Beanie Baby® size)
  • 8-pack box of non-toxic crayons
  • Thin 8.5” x 11” coloring book

Please do not send personal hygiene items such as dental floss, body lotion, and baby oil.

Additionally, we will not accept large personal hygiene items considering the volume of items we will need to ship to a medical mission site. We will not accept any type of food product, like candy and gum; shipping regulations prohibit sending food items across international borders.

Sending Items to Operation Smile

Watch your ALMANACS and Bulletins for information.


Smile Bags are 14"H by 12”W, made of sturdy cotton fabric and are closed by a drawstring at the top. The bag is sized to hold a thin, 8.5” x 11” coloring book.


For news & latest information, see our MATERIALS page.