According to a recent survey of third and sixth-grade children in eastern Kentucky, more than half of them had at least one untreated cavity.The oral health of the state’s children is getting worse, even though more have dental insurance.Through our “Mighty Molars” program, we are working to address the issue in communities in Appalachia.
Earlier this year, our partner, the Lee County Family Resource Center (LCFRC), was provided with hundreds of the “Mighty Molars” dental kits containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss.
LCFRC director Sherry Lanham brought in staff from the local health department to teach children at Beattyville Elementary about the importance of proper oral hygiene and instructed them on proper brushing and flossing techniques.
Following the presentation, each child received their own “Mighty Molars” dental kit to be able to use what they learned in school to keep their teeth clean when they got home.
“Some of them had never had their own toothpaste, and they did not know how to use floss,” Sherry told us.
“Wow, I have my own toothbrush,” commented one student. “Now I don’t have to share with my brother and sister.”
And, added Sherry, “Americans Helping Americans® has gone beyond our wildest dreams in the way they have helped our community.”
It is not us who have “gone beyond our wildest dreams” but the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® who make it possible for us to be able to provide the “Mighty Molars” kits to our partners.
The kits cost less than $10 each for a six-month supply, and the need is great throughout Appalachia.
Our goal is to help prevent as many future cavities in school children as possible.
Joan is an amputee who is described by our partner in Cleveland, Tennessee, Ocoee Outreach, as having “a precious spirit” and who desperately a new handicap ramp to allow her to get in and out of her home on her own.
With grant funding provided by Americans Helping Americans® to purchase the lumber, a volunteer team serving with Ocoee Outreach from the Middle Baptist Association in Slyvania, Georgia, which provided free labor, Joan can now enter and exit her home independently.
She had struggled for two years to get in and out of her home, usually calling the EMT’s to get her out when she had to go to the doctor.
But now her life has been transformed.
“I am so excited just to be able to get out and take a ride,” she told us. Watch her appreciation below:
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Volunteers and our partner Ocoee Outreach are helping to rehab and repair home in Cleveland, Tennessee. The team gathers together to repair roofs, replace windows, flooring and siding, paint, and construct wheelchair ramps. Some even do specialized interior work.
Most of the clients are elderly, disabled, or suffering from health problems. Some are families with children living in desperate circumstances.
Ocoee’s mission is to rehabilitate enough homes that it gives them the shelter and community identity which they need.
This summer 1,500 volunteers that will work to rehabilitate about 80 homes.
The volunteers provided the labor. We provide cash grant funding to buy the necessary lumber, shingles and other materials to do the work.
The average materials cost per house is $1,500. There are over 80 homes on the renovation list, so every bit of support from the supporters of Americans Helping Americans helps.
Summer time comes and students get a break to turn back into kids and explore their world around them. We remember when we were children, spending a few weeks at summer camp, making new friends, staying active, continue learning in a nontraditional classroom, one that is outside with life being the teacher.
Here are some of our summer days, and some of those summer days for the children of Appalachia that you help to create.
“Thank you for helping make this possible,” says Rev. Sheldon Livesay, executive director of the grassroots organization Of One Accord which operates the buses with support from Americans Helping Americans®. “We’re providing close to 300 to 400 meals per day.”
It’s mid-April and across the country temperatures are rising. Millions of children are counting the weeks and days left until the last day of school and fun-filled weeks of playing outside, swimming pools and vacations to the beach, or maybe even Disney World . But for many children in Appalachia, they are dreading the last day of school and filled with uncertainty, unsure of when , or even if, their next meal is coming. When school is in session these low-income children, literally living in poverty way below the federal poverty level, are guaranteed a nutritious breakfast and lunch on school days.However, when school is out there is no such guarantee. In many cases, their parents are doing the best they can to feed their children, but tragically in other cases, they simply don’t care.Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that these children go hungry for days, weeks, on end.
In urban and suburban areas, the federal government supports the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) which provides free lunches to children in schools and community centers.But in rural areas, such as Appalachian east Tennessee, children live miles and miles away from their school, and even if there was a SFSP operating, they couldn’t get there anyway.
So what’s the solution?
Americans Helping Americans® partnered with Sheldon Livesay, Of One Accord‘s executive director, decided that if the children can’t get to the food, they’ll bring the food to the children.
The program, known as the Lunch Box bus – former school buses converted into mobile cafeterias – bring lunch to hundreds of children each weekday while school is out for the summer.
What began with a single bus has grown to a fleet of four which last year delivered a total of 14,459 meals to hungry children in Hawkins County during the months of June and July, up from 11,732 in 2015.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we are able to provide cash grant funding for expenses including fuel, insurance and drivers’ salaries to help keep the wheels on the Lunch Box buses rolling all summer long.
Thursday, May 25, is the last day of school for Hawkins County school students and on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, the Lunch Box buses will begin their daily journey providing nutritious meals to hundreds of children living in rural communities scattered throughout the county.
Why Does Appalachia Need the Lunch Box Bus Program? Find out why here …