When the world shut down early within the COVID-19 pandemic, college students of the UTHSC College of Dentistry had been on the lookout for a means to assist their group.
A lot was but unknown about transmission of the coronavirus, and the school was adamant about defending its college students, school, workers, and sufferers from publicity.
“They had been simply form of at residence they usually had been on the lookout for methods to assist out,” stated Cassandra Christiansen, RDH, MPA, EdD, affiliate professor and director of College-Primarily based Packages and Neighborhood Outreach within the Faculty of Dentistry.
From that need grew a mission that continues at this time and has helped to organize greater than 15,000 meals packing containers and offered greater than 1,000 toothbrushes and 1,300 tubes of toothpaste for these in want in Memphis.
Dr. Christiansen stated the volunteer effort, dubbed “Love Thy Neighbor,” has been a pleasure, not only for these receiving the meals and dental gadgets, however for these distributing them.
“For lots of the scholars and school members, this was actually a lifeline, as a result of it simply felt like the entire world was shutting down and we had been caught at residence and desirous to do one thing to assist,” she stated.
The Faculty of Dentistry partnered with the Memphis Meals Financial institution and Christ Missionary Baptist Church to assemble the meals packing containers. Each Tuesday, college students and school volunteer to pack the packing containers on the church and distribute them in a drive-through giveaway to Shelby County residents in want.
What began with the Faculty of Dentistry has grown right into a campus outreach undertaking.
“I’ve had volunteers to assist, I feel, from each faculty on campus, And many school members will come out, even throughout vacation breaks.This simply speaks to the truth that school and college students actually have a need to serve and to assist.”
Dr. Cassandra Christiansen
In 2020 the UTHSC volunteers helped to organize 10,000 meals packing containers, Dr. Christiansen stated. “These packing containers included roughly 500 toothbrushes, 500 containers of dental floss, and 500 tubes of toothpaste.”
The necessity decreased a bit in 2021, nonetheless, from January to late November, members of the UTHSC group helped to organize 5,985 meals packing containers.
Love Thy Neighbor continues to be occurring. “We pack each Tuesday morning 10 a.m.-noon and ship packing containers on Wednesday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.,” Dr. Christiansen stated. “We’re nonetheless packing and freely giving 250 to 300 packing containers every week. The necessity decreased barely in the beginning of the 12 months, however has picked up once more, I consider associated to the rise in meals prices.”
This story was initially printed within the Winter 2022 Dentistry Journal.