Las Vegas — SmileCon attendees took time out of their busy course schedules Oct. 12 to pack 1,000 backpacks with healthy food and oral hygiene products for underserved children in the Las Vegas area.
Through its Give Kids A Smile program, the American Dental Association collaborated with Nevada nonprofit organizations Future Smiles and Three Square to host Pack & Give Back.
“This is a great event; it’s one of the fun things that we get to do when we’re here,” ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., said. “This is clearly something that is important to us, through our Give Kids A Smile program — our ability to collaborate with Three Square and Future Smiles, who have apparently collaborated before. They both do wonderful things.”
Future Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides oral health care services to vulnerable children throughout Nevada. Its goal is to instill positive oral health behavior by providing educational and dental tools that children need to develop strong dental hygiene habits.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it partnered with Three Square to distribute brushing supplies and personal protective equipment with food at schools. Three Square is a nonprofit organization and a member of Feeding America. It is southern Nevada’s only food bank and the area’s largest hunger-relief organization.
“I believe that there is a great synergy between oral health and the power of food,” said Terri Chandler, founder and executive director of Future Smiles. “One thing that this pandemic has taught all of us is that health truly matters, which includes food. If we have a healthy community, we have a strong community. We will all thrive together.”
Three Square will distribute the backpacks from Pack & Give Back on an upcoming Friday to children who might otherwise go without food during the weekend. Each backpack includes four meals, two snacks and an oral health goody bag.
“One in five children in our community are living in food-insecure homes,” said Dan Johnson, senior development officer of Three Square.
Pack & Give Back was sponsored by Henry Schein, Colgate and the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation.