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Teens, kids receive eye, dental care

Hygienist Becky Kirksey and Dr. Dean Anderson share a light moment during Give Kids a Smile Day on Wednesday, Jan. 30. During the coldest day in years, the dental team volunteered their time to provide free care to high school students. (Contributed)

School children received free eye screenings and dental care recently, thanks to local volunteers.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the coldest day in years, Dean Anderson Dentistry in Alexandria saw 11 teenagers from the high school, said patient care coordinator Liz Greene. It was the day scheduled for Give Kids a Smile, a day to provide free dental care for children, and 12 teenagers had signed up.

"We weren't sure if anybody would come," she said, but all but one of the teenagers made it in. Two of the teens had cars that wouldn't start, so staff members picked them up and brought them home, she said.

She said staff members asked Anderson if he would prefer to reschedule, as air temperatures were supposed to hit 30 below and colder, but he decided to do it, as long as patients were willing to come in. A couple staff members who lived further away didn't come in, but those who lived in town had good, running vehicles and were able to come in for the day, she said.

"Dr. Anderson — you can't stop the man," Greene said. "He would go through a blizzard to take care of patients."

In the past, they and other dental clinics have taken care of younger children during Give Kids a Smile Day, but they realized that high school students needed it too. They did exams and cleanings and filled cavities with the laser, which the kids loved, since there was no drilling and no needle, she said.

Other volunteers have helped school children with their eyesight.

Through their KidSight program, Alexandria Evening Lions and Forada Lions screened 1,075 students at Woodland, Voyager, Lincoln, New Testament and St. Mary's elementary schools during 2018. The service clubs referred 55 of those students for further exams with an eye care professional.

Eyesight is one of the focus areas for the Lions Club, which works to improve the lives of the visually impaired and prevent avoidable blindness.