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Eastchester, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - A fourth grader in Eastchester is helping to put smiles on the faces of children she's never met.
CBSN New York's Charlie Cooper spoke to the young girl behind the movement.
For the Moens, most trips to the grocery store are done with their hands full of empty bottles.
"I was collecting them from school," 9-year-old Abigail Moen said.
Abigail says she started doing so after watching a commercial about children with cleft palates who struggle with eating, drinking, speaking and even smiling.
"I watched it and I got so sad because I wanted to help all those kids. So we did some research," Abigail said.
"She started looking at the cost of surgery. The cost of medicine, blankets, and learned a lot more about Operation Smile," said her father Erik Moen.
Operation Smile is a nonprofit that provides free surgeries to children born with a tear in their lip or a gap in the roof of their mouth. One surgery costs about $240.
"I decided to start collecting bottles because I also want to help the ocean, because there are a lot of animals in the ocean and they're dying from plastic," Abigail said.
"She talked to some of her friends, and they did a presentation in front of the student council at school, and that's kind of how the movement started," Erik said.
Although the family says raising money from the bottles is a slow and tedious process.
"You know, 20 bottles is only $1," Erik said.
Abigail's efforts have already raised enough money for one surgery. Her hope is to continue collecting bottles to help support many others, reported CBSN New York's Charlie Cooper.
The fourth-grader says she wants to be a surgeon when she grows up to help more kids who have the birth defect.
"If they have a smile on their face I'll have a smile on my face," Abigail said.
With just a few dollars in her hands after recycling dozens of bottles, Abigail says it's worth the work it takes to give the kids the kind of happiness she gets from doing this kind of work.
The family says money raised from the bottle project goes directly to Operation Smile.
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