Virtual Smile Drives Give Campaign a Boost During Pandemic

Our 2020 Smile Drive campaign was in full swing when the coronavirus shutdowns brought collections to an abrupt halt. Volunteers across the country were forced to cancel their Smile Drive events as most collection locations were closed. But thanks to volunteers who collected monetary donations online, and SmileMakers, who generously doubled (and then some!) their impact with a donation of 50,000 toothbrushes, kids in need were still able to receive dental hygiene supplies to help keep them healthy during the pandemic.

All together, our awesome volunteers and donors provided more than 81,500 dental hygiene products to kids in need—even in the middle of a global pandemic!

(To donate to our toothbrush fund, visit our Smile Drive Page.)

Here are a few of the organizations that received donations thanks to our generous Virtual Smile Drive donors:

Summer Meal Programs

KIPP: St. Louis is a charter school that prepares students with skills and confidence to prepare them for college. They generally feed 750 children each day during their Summer Meal Program.

Second Harvest Food Bank Metrolina serves children in Charlotte, NC through their school mobile pantry program. 384 toothbrushes were provided to help the children they feed.

Feed More provides meals to thousands of children and teens in Richmond, VA. 240 kids received toothbrushes through their Summer Food Service Program.

Homeless Shelters and Programs for Families Living in Poverty

The Little Bit Foundation (pictured in circle, above right) attempts to break the cycle of poverty in St. Louis through education, while simultaneously providing basic needs and instruction in personal and dental hygiene to children in need. They have a reach of 14,000 students.

Families Forward Charlotte works with families living in poverty in Mecklenburg County, NC to provide them individualized mentoring, educational opportunities and essential support as they walk towards a long-term stable and economically mobile future.

PennyAppeal at VCU is a nonprofit organization run by students at Virginia Commonwealth University. They work to tackle the root causes of poverty while bridging the gap between funders and poor communities in order to help end intergenerational poverty.

Nor Bouyakoub snapped a photo with the box of toothbrushes sent from SmileMakers and told us, "PennyAppeal at VCU is very grateful for this donation and we hope that it will have a great impact on the lives of families with children in Richmond!"

Foster Care Organizations and Group Homes

Youth in Need is a residential group home offering a safe place for children and teens in crisis located in St. Charles, MO. They have a variety of programs including street outreach for homeless children and childhood education.

Butterfly Haven serves children impacted by foster care and families who have experienced a crisis situation. 144 toothbrushes were given to help stock their hygiene closet.

Foster Village Charlotte creates connection with dignity for children and families experiencing foster care by meeting urgent needs, providing educational and emotional support, and advocating for children. Most children enter foster care with very few belongings, if any at all. The toothbrushes are being directly distributed to the children they serve.

United Methodist Family Services provides a comprehensive array of programs to meet the needs of high-risk children and parents to enable them to overcome challenging circumstances and succeed. A national leader in helping children, UMFS also proactively identifies unmet social service needs throughout Virginia and develops appropriate partnerships to address them.

Other Organizations:

Ronald McDonald House Charities in Charlotte, NC and Richmond, VA (pictured, left) provide a home-away-from-home for families of sick children receiving medical treatment.

Communities in Schools, Carver Promise is a coalition between four colleges and G. W. Carver Elementary School, to provide low-income students with mentors who provide them with weekly mentoring and educational support. The program received a donation of 480 toothbrushes for the children they serve.

See a list of other beneficiaries at the bottom of this page.

America's ToothFairy Dental Resource Program members providing access to dental care and preventive services to children in underserved communities across the United States also received toothbrushes as needed. (Pictured below are l-r: a young patient from Cass Community Health Foundation in Kansas City, MO; Wesley Health Centers, Commerce, CA; and Let's Smile Inc., Owatonna, MN.)

Before the pandemic brought in-person collections to a halt, our Smile Drive volunteers collected more than 21,500 dental hygiene products and distributed them to organizations making a difference in their communities. If you’re considering holding a Smile Drive but aren’t sure who to donate your collection to, here are few examples:

Communities in Schools of Miami Dade, FL
Zimba Premium Teeth Whitening donated 10,000 toothbrushes to our Smile Drive campaign! Half of those toothbrushes were distributed to students in Miami through Communities in Schools (left).

CAP Agency in Shakopee, MN
Led by Deanna Vochoska, St. Michael Catholic School in Prior Lake, MN collected 694 items and donated to help children in need through the Community Action Partnership of Scott Carver & Dakota Counties, an organization that helps families in crisis.

Salvation Army Angel Tree program in Tulsa, OK 
Girl Scout Troop 7312 (pictured below), led by Kelli Champlin, donated 259 oral care items to the Angel Tree program, which provides gifts to disadvantaged kids and special needs adults during the Christmas season.

Amber and Alyssa from Kunsemiller Orthodontics in Shiloh, IL collected 3,000 products and distributed them to students during oral health education presentations at local elementary schools (below), pre-k programs and health festivals as part of their Toothfairy Project.

The team from EatMoveGrow and Arbor Family Health in New Orleans, LA placed collection boxes at the Louisiana Oral Health Summit and Louisiana Rural Health Association Conference (below, right) and collected more than 1,000 oral care items that were distributed to various elementary schools and Head Start sites throughout the school year. They also debuted “Fluoride Fred” (below, left), who accompanies them on trips to school-based dental sealant clinics in rural schools throughout Louisiana.

The Shack Neighborhood House in Pursglove, WV. 
West Virginia University Senior Dental Hygiene Students (pictured, below) and Mountaineer KidZone worked together to benefit their local community center. The Smile Drive was one of the activities that the groups selected to help promote National Children's Dental Health Month in February.

The team created a Smile Drive box to collect toothbrushes and oral care donations right outside of the Mountaineer KidZone at WVU's Student Recreation Center and sent out emails to families to let them know about the Smile Drive. Mountaineer KidZone students shared America's Toothfairy "Tips from the Tooth Fairy" handouts with Mountaineer KidZone parents and kiddos throughout the month.

WVU Senior Dental Hygiene Students delivered the oral health items and spoke to families at "The Shack" about oral health and local resources for oral care.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Russellville, AR
Tammy Montjoy organized a special Smile Drive offer for the Pope County Library System. For a two week period patrons could bring in food and personal hygiene items to have their overdue book fines waived.

Family Promise of York County, Rock Hill, SC
Winthrop University’s Pre-Dental Club set up donation tables at their Student Activities building (above) throughout the month of February and also kept a box in the lobby of the Science building. Through advertising on social media and on campus, the group collected almost 300 oral care items for Family Promise, an organization that provides meals, shelter and case management services for homeless families.

Who will you give to through your Smile Drive this year?

Kids across the country need your help to stay healthy and protect their smiles from tooth decay. Your Smile Drive can still be a success, even while practicing safe social distancing! Whether you collect toothbrushes, floss and rinse safely with drop-off boxes or a Smile Drive-Thru, or ask your family and friends to contribute to your Virtual Smile Drive fund, we have everything you need. For more information, visit our Smile Drive page.

Other organizations to receive donations because of Virtual Smile Drive donations included: SouthSide Early Childcare Center, Join Hands East St. Louis, Operation Food Search, The C.W. Williams Community Health Center, Ozarks Food Harvest, The River Fund New York, Hope House Foundation, The Call in Arkansas, Assistance League of Los Angeles: Operation School Bell, DeKalb Salvation Army, Charlotte Salvation Army, International Rescue Committee, Elon Homes, Home Again Richmond, and Charlotte Community Health Clinic.

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