Team USA Athlete Hosts Smile Drive for Local Kids

This February, dentistrytoday.com celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month with news stories, interviews, and blogs all about safeguarding pediatric oral health. #NCDHM

Samantha Dreyer, sophomore at William Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill, is a competitive figure skater and Team USA athlete. When not busy traveling for competitions or participating in service projects through her high school’s Service Over Self Club, she dreams of one day helping underserved communities as a dentist or orthodontist. Motivated to decrease dental health disparities, Samantha was looking for a way to help address some of these needs within her own community mobile dental unit. Hosting an America’s ToothFairy Smile Drive was the perfect opportunity.

America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation launched the Smile Drive in 2014 as a national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of children’s dental health and collect toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other oral care products for children in need throughout February, National Children’s Dental Health Month. Thanks to the enthusiastic participation of volunteers like Samantha, to date more than one million oral care products have been distributed to nonprofit clinics and organizations reaching underserved children.

Brown Paper Bag Day

With inspiration from Brown Paper Bag Day at her mother’s pharmacy, a day in which elderly patients bring in medications they don’t remember how or when to take, Samantha and her mother devised an innovative way to make her Smile Drive a success—Samantha created a Brown Paper Bag Day of her own.

Samantha bought enough brown paper bags to distribute to every house in her neighborhood and affixed a short letter explaining who she was, what the Smile Drive is, and why oral care products are so desperately needed. The letter also included pickup instructions indicating the date and time she would collect the bags from the front door of each home. By the end of her Smile Drive, Samantha had collected more than 300 products for children in her community.

Smile Drive is a national campaign dental equipment. However, the purpose is to spark both local participation and local impact. Smile Drive hosts select a local shelter, food bank, school, or other nonprofit organization of their choice to receive their donations, allowing volunteers to address the needs of children right in their own community.

The charity Samantha chose to receive her donations was the Northwest Community Healthcare Mobile Dental Clinic. This mobile clinic provides preventive and restorative oral health services to individuals and families who are without dental insurance and who live at less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Samantha’s hope was that by equipping the clinic with additional oral care products, more families would be able to enjoy healthy, pain-free smiles.

“The Smile Drive was a fun and easy project to do,” Samantha said, proud of her community’s support for her first Smile Drive. “I hope to do an even larger Smile Drive next year with my Service Over Self Club.”Which Vitamins And Minerals Are Good For Me? for more information.

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