Bath County High School senior volunteers in Cambodia - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Bath County High School senior volunteers in Cambodia

We've all had at least one teacher who made a lasting impression on us.  Whether it was the extra motivation we needed inside the classroom or the simple encouragement to go above and beyond.

For one Bath County student that teacher is her inspiration to volunteer with non-profit Operation Smile.

Rebekah Blake may not see a dental career in her future, but she's ready to improve smiles miles away from home.

Blake and her friends gathered in the library after school one day last week to sort through and pack up everything she's taking to Cambodia.

She's leaving Thursday to volunteer for Operation Smile, so naturally she's taking lots of donated tooth brushes, but folks in the Bath County community have made quilts and colorful paintings for Rebekah to take to Cambodia.

A sheet painted by BCHS students will welcome children facing reconstructive cleft lip surgery.

"The fact that if they have this deformity they can't eat and they can't drink and they're malnourished and they can't even go to school, they're like shunned away from their families and their friends to help someone actually be accepted is a really big part of what I want to do," Rebekah explained.

When Rebekah gets to Cambodia they start day with screening children for oral surgery.  Then, they'll go into local hospitals and educate kids not only on their oral health, but their overall health.

It was a teacher who introduced the senior to the non-profit and inspired her to start an Operation Smile club at her school.

It's a cause Rebekah believes in and her mom says she's bringing awareness to.

"A smile is a big thing for someone.  It shows a lot, a smile makes everyone else smile, so I feel like if a child smiles everyone else will."

"If you think about it I don't think that I can ever say that I've walked around and seen anybody with a cleft lip in this community," said Amy Blake, Rebekah's mom.

The community has given beyond quilts and paintings even buying shirts and making cards that say "I love your smile."

Rebekah says the hardest part is deciding the few children who will get them.

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