Christmas time is the season of giving; we adopt "angels" to buy gifts for underprivileged children, we donate to charity, we have coat drives, and volunteer at soup kitchens. But what about Halloween? Is the fall the season of cavities and insulin injections? What if, instead of contributing to the gluttony of trick-or-treating, we could actually improve the health of thousands of children?
Central Appalachia is number one in the nation in toothlessness, according to an ABC News article
. The news source cites the soft drink "Mountain Dew" as one of the main culprits of the problem as children use it essentially as an antidepressant and stimulant, all in one. "The dental dilemma in Kentucky," the article says, "is that nearly one out of every two of the state's children are enrolled in Medicaid but barely a quarter of dentists accept the insurance." Some people in this mountainous area have not been taught how to take care of their teeth or simply cannot afford dental hygiene products.
"With the support of the community Grandma's Gifts works to improve the lives of Appalachian families by providing goods, services and opportunities, while educating people on regional issues and teaching the value of volunteerism."
Grandma's Gifts is a non-profit organization based in Powell, Ohio. The organization is run completely by volunteers and students, so 100 percent of the profits go to providing services for Appalachian families. They provide tool-kits for student/work organizations to hold drives for dental hygiene products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss. The organization then works with other service organizations to distribute these goodie bags throughout the Appalachian region to schools, medical clinics, churches and community groups. Donations can also be sent directly to Grandma's Gifts!
Note: most of Appalachia's health and economic plight can be rooted back to the exploitation of its workers and natural resources by coal mining companies. The fight for workers' and land rights is an ongoing battle in Appalachia. To learn more about these movements, visit The Mountain Institute
and United Mountain Defense
Photo: From Shelby Lee Adams' "Appalachia" series