On Feb. 20, members of Philaco Womens Club turned their regular monthly luncheon into a mission.

Barb Paget, chair of the International Affairs Committee, organized a work day to prepare items for donation to Operation Smile, a charitable organization that provides free surgery for children who suffer from cleft palate and do not have access to medical care.

Their medical missions deliver safe surgeries to places where access to surgery may not be available, frequently in the developing world through the talent of medical volunteers from different countries.

The treatment provided by Operation Smile save thousands of lives annually. On a typical international medical mission, 300-500 children receive full medical evaluations and 100-150 children are surgically treated.

This year Operation Smile plans to launch 30 such missions, visiting places like Amman, Jordan; Musanze, Rwanda; and Lima, Peru.

Philaco’s volunteers created more than 100 hospital gowns and accessories for children who will receive surgery on this year’s missions. Paget said she gives special thanks to four volunteers who worked at home on the project for over a month - Cathy Bailey, Mary Jean Heide, Beverly Kelley and Liz Sisung. – By LOIS SWOBODA