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Letter: Thanks to everyone for supporting free dental care event in Hastings

To the editor,

The Give Kids a Smile Day volunteer initiative in Hastings, which provides free dental care to children in need, was a success in Hastings as well as throughout Minnesota. In Hastings more than 125 children received free dental care provided by dentists and their staff. Additional services were also provided or children were referred to specialists for oral surgery or more complex dental care.

This is the eighth year this program has been in place in Hastings. Dentists have seen some of these children for several years and are seeing improved oral hygiene and less oral deterioration overall from the children they are helping. The dentists and their staff provide preventative care as well as education to help kids and their families understand the importance of good oral hygiene.

According to the Minnesota Dental Association, access to dental care is at a crisis point for many families. In Hastings many of the patients seen during Give Kids a Smile day are in families that have been impacted by a loss of their dental insurance due to job loss in the past few years. Many families simply do not have dental insurance benefits from their employer and cannot afford to buy dental insurance.

The mission of United Way of Hastings is to build partnerships to improve the lives of people in our community. We work to advance the common good by focusing on health and wellness, education and financial stability. These are the building blocks for a good life.

Preventative dental care in most situations is more cost effective than future health consequences from lack of dental care. The Give Kids a Smile Day is a great volunteer effort that is part of keeping families healthy.

Thanks to all involved in helping make this event successful again this year!

-- Tara Donohue Weiss, Executive Director, United Way of Hastings