Since the launch of Smile Drive ten years ago, more than 2.4 million oral care products have been distributed at safety-net dental clinics, Title 1 schools, free screening events, foster care programs, homeless shelters, food banks, and other organizations that help families in crisis.
The families that benefit from the donations are typically from low-income homes but occasionally the need arises for entire communities impacted by natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes. Most recently, victims displaced by the Maui wildfires received toothbrushes thanks to an elementary school student from Corpus Christi, Texas.
When Vivienne Hill, age 10, heard about the devastation in Maui, she was immediately concerned for her friend Moena. The girls had been fast friends since meeting at a Miss Elementary America National Pageant two years ago. After reading the list of items needed for the impacted families in Maui, Vivienne, the daughter of a dentist, registered her Smile Drive and rallied her friends to give.
In less than 48 hours she raised $700 and had 400 toothbrushes already on the way to Maui through an Amazon wish list she set up as part of her drive. She also received donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste from friends and family who live nearby. By the end of her Smile Drive, Vivienne had collected 1,225 oral care products from her family and friends.
With the funds raised through Vivienne’s Smile Drive, America’s ToothFairy sent an additional 1,488 toothbrushes to Moena's elementary school in Kealakekua, Hawaii to be distributed to local families in need.
Sometimes it takes a disaster for people to see those in need, but the reality is there are families who are silently struggling right now everywhere. When a family has to choose between buying a meal or buying dental hygiene supplies, or simply doesn’t understand that the bacteria that cause cavities can be spread by sharing a toothbrush, tooth decay is almost inevitable. Its consequences contribute to the cycle of poverty.
This year, from January to April, we will celebrate the Smile Drive campaign’s 10th anniversary with special games, prizes, and promotions. However, you don’t have to wait to get involved. The 2024 Smile Drive campaign runs year-round. To find out how to participate or donate to the campaign, visit SmileDrive.org.