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Summer's day well spent

Courtney White, Rachael Powers, Beth Day, Lisa Swinney

A handful of 2011 graduates, also former members of the Caruth chapter of the Student American Dental Hygienists' Association, distributed hygiene kits to a segment of Dallas' homeless population on June 4. From left to right: Courtney White; Rachael Powers; Beth Day; and Lisa Swinney.

Photo courtesy Dr. Janice DeWald

Staying true to profession’s spirit of service, dental hygiene grads reach out to South Dallas homeless with hygiene kits

The items in the bags that Lisa Swinney and a handful of 2011 dental hygiene graduates distributed to the Dallas homeless community on June 4 were simple, really — a toothbrush, toothpaste and bar of soap, to name a few — things tossed in the bathroom cabinet or shower and not given a second thought.

While such hygiene staples may seem basic, a group of Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association members from the college spent the better part of a summer morning at Cornerstone Baptist Church in South Dallas, distributing more than 100 bags filled with them.

“Their eyes lit up when they received their bags,” Swinney says of the men and women’s reactions. “They were so excited to have a toothbrush and toothpaste — something so simple that so many of us take for granted,” she adds.

For Swinney, it is the women she remembers most from the day.

“They were so thankful to receive these hygiene items, especially shampoo, conditioner, soap and a comb,” Swinney says. “It was rewarding to see how they reacted to such a small gift.”

Donating the hygiene bags was an effort more than two months in the making.

In April, students from the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene’s SADHA chapter attended the Texas Dental Hygienists’ Association annual meeting in San Marcos, Texas. It was there they worked with members of other chapters to assemble mountains of bags.

While each SADHA chapter was given the freedom to determine which groups would ultimately receive the hygiene bags, Swinney had already volunteered at Cornerstone, so the location was a fitting match.

The activity, also, was a natural extension of what the graduates learned during their time at the college.

“This event was a way students could give back to the community, which is an emphasis of all dental hygiene programs,” says Dr. Janice DeWald, director and chair of the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene, who went with the graduates to Cornerstone. “I am sure they will use this positive experience to continue helping the community, whether it is on their own, through their professional organization or through the office where they practice,” DeWald says.