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Inspiring My Daughter To Make The World A Better Place with Operation Smile

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It’s Smile Week – a week where Johnson & Johnson honors and celebrates the life-changing work that our partner, Operation Smile, does for people around the world. Today, J&J mom Carla shares how she and her daughter Grace are doing their part to enable Operation Smile to bring even more smiles to kids.

All parents want their children to gain from our wisdom and grow up to be independent, courageous, hard-working, and most importantly, caring. I was born and raised in Panama, a country that lacks the resources, technology and privileges that my family and I have in the United States. I know that there are families who struggle to have their children’s most basic needs – like health care – met.

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Nine years ago, when my daughter Grace was born, I wanted to find a way for her to grow up appreciating what she had and to understand that it is important to help others – not just by my telling her how fortunate we are, and how important it is to share – but by having her experience it firsthand with her school Daisy troop. Grace has received wonderful lessons in caring by being involved with Girl Scouts for the last few years. As she got more engaged with scouting, so did I – and now I serve as troop treasurer.

Part of the Girl Scout Law says that Scouts will do their best to “make the world a better place.” That has always stuck with me as something that I wanted to make sure Grace saw as a priority.

As I’m sure you know, every year the Girl Scouts raise money by selling delicious cookies. Grace’s troop chooses to donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity. At the start of each cookie season, Lorie, their troop leader, lets the girls choose from a list of different worthy causes. In 2014, they donated an amount to build a well in Africa that is able to provide clean water to a whole village!

This past year, I had learned about Operation Smile and the amazing work they do to transform the lives of children, and how they bring renewed hope to families who had nowhere else to turn. I suggested to Lorie that we add Operation Smile to the list of causes the girls could pick to donate to this cookie season. I knew it would be powerful for the girls to see firsthand how they are helping kids have a better life – and perhaps even save a life.

Lorie presented the girls with the option of donating to another well in Africa or to Operation Smile. She showed them some of the before and after pictures of children who have undergone cleft palate surgery through Operation Smile. The girls were so touched by the faces of the kids that they unanimously voted for Operation Smile!

At the end of cookie season, we were all thrilled to learn that the troop had raised enough money to donate one smile and touch a child’s life – a life that is now brimming with smiles of hope and opportunity.

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These opportunities to give back have been so rewarding – not only for Grace, but also for me. And, although Grace has never actually said it, I hope that allthese life experiences are helping her become a more considerate and caring person who is always looking to make the world a better place!

Are you inspired to help too? We’re excited to give you two easy ways to support Operation Smile by taking actions you do every day. With the free Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo app, you can trigger a $1 donation to Operation Smile every time you share a photo through the app.* Get it in the app store for your iOS or Android device, or visit for more information.

You can also help raise funds for Operation Smile just by running, biking or walking. Check out Charity Miles in the app store or visit to learn more.

*Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.

Carla Martin lives in Warren, NJ with her 9 year old daughter Grace and husband Don. She is an IT Manager at ETHICON. She has been with Johnson & Johnson for almost 8 years. Carla holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Lehigh University. She enjoys spending time with her family & friends and reading.

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