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Giving Tuesday donations to support free dental visits for hundreds of Shenandoah Valley kids

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:20 PM EST
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SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WVIR) - A dental clinic in the Shenandoah Valley hopes to use Giving Tuesday to raise enough money for 650 kids to get free dental visits by June.

The Augusta Regional Dental Clinic in Fishersville is playing catch-up after COVID-19 stopped the program.

Every year, the Augusta Regional Dental Clinic provides free dental visits to hundreds of underserved children in the Shenandoah Valley, but demand is higher than usual right now due to the pandemic.

The clinic’s program takes it inside schools in the greater Staunton, Augusta County, Waynesboro area to provide oral care.

In 2020, when schools were virtual, it put the program on pause.

The program restarted earlier this month and saw 86 kids in one day at Bessie Weller Elementary School in Staunton.

“This program is absolutely vital for our community because so many kids don’t have access to a dentist, don’t go to a dentist on a regular basis,” Sophie Parson, the clinic’s executive director, said. " Two out of 10 children, according to Augusta Health, don’t visit a dentist every year, and this is dramatic because dental disease, they are treatable if they are taken at an early stage.”

Parson says failing to provide dental care can lead to pain, low self-esteem, and even speech difficulties.

Right now, 11 schools have signed up for the program.

To help the clinic reach its goal, Blue Ridge Oral Surgery, and the Rotary Club of Waynesboro have pledged to match every dollar donated on Giving Tuesday up to $3,600.

Donations can be made on the Giving Tuesday website.

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