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AADA Head to Toe project continues to grow

June 04, 2012

By Stacie Crozier, ADA News staff

The Alliance of the American Dental Association has expanded its From Head to Toe service project, which reached 2,500 vulnerable adults and children in Las Vegas during the ADA Annual Session and AADA Annual Convention last fall.

On April 12, nearly 50 Alliance members attending the organization’s annual national conference in Stone Mountain, Ga., packaged 360 kits for donation to a senior center and a women’s shelter in Atlanta. The Alliance was also able to donate an additional 406 tubes of toothpaste and 840 toothbrushes to the Atlanta-area recipients.

Community service: Alliance of the ADA members Sylvia Greer, Kristie Peppy and Mary Percy help package dental care products and education materials for Head To Toe kits April 12 at the AADA Annual Conference in Stone Mountain, Ga.
“It was wonderful that so many Alliance members and their dentist spouses included hats, scarves, gloves, socks and oral health supplies in their suitcases for the AADA Conference 2012 Head to Toe event,” said Debbie Torbush, AADA president. “The adult kits were provided to Senior Connections for distribution to senior citizens through Meals on Wheels and in-home care programs. The children’s kits were donated to the International Women’s House, a shelter for battered refugee and immigrant women and children. The old saying that 'many hands make light work’ was true as we packaged kits assembly line style in record time and enjoyed socializing and making and renewing friendships.”

Last month, eight Pennsylvania Alliance members collected enough hats, socks, and dental care items to package 290 Head to Toe kits for the Hershey Plaza Apartments, a community in Hershey, Pa., that offers subsidized housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

“Pennsylvania Alliance members had a great time coming together for fun, friendship and philanthropy at the state annual session,” said Carol Reitz, program co-chair from Reading, Pa. “Volunteers brought toothpaste, floss, lip balm, toothbrushes and denture care products. We rented a van to deliver our donations and meet some of the residents. It was a great feeling to give back and new Alliance members who attended loved the project and are looking forward to continuing it New Orleans in 2013 in conjunction with the ADA Annual Session and Alliance Annual Convention.”

Alaska Alliance members also conducted a Head To Toe project in conjunction with their state meeting May 17-19.

In Illinois, eight members packaged 290 kits for children for use at the Illinois State Dental Association Mission of Mercy event planned for June 8 and 9 in Grayslake.

Head to Toe growth: AADA volunteers Johanna Manasse and Erin Knowles participate in the Alliance service project to provide Head To Toe kits to Atlanta-area charities.

“From the beginning we know Head to Toe was a winner concept for everyone—those who contributed supplies, those who packaged the kits, those who negotiated for volunteers and, of course, the grateful recipients,” said Johanna Manasse, program co-chair. “By extending the project to other venues, we intended to engage our members, share our good fortune with others in need and demonstrate how easily this project can be duplicated on a large, medium or small scale. Anyone and everyone can manage a Head to Toe project.”

Mrs. Manasse, an Alliance member in Olympia Fields, Ill., said that the kits prepared for the Mission of Mercy event include coloring pages, dental health education information and craft items to help keep children busy while they wait their turn for dental care.

“And because it’s a summertime event, our 'head’ item will be a new or gently used book,” she said. “Alliance members had fun doing our part in promoting good dental health to Illinois children and families.”

To view a Fox News video clip about the Head to Toe project in Las Vegas, or learn more about the Alliance and its activities, visit

The Alliance also offers a how-to guide on creating a Head to Toe project posted online at