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Tee Off for Kids' Smiles
Give Kids A Smile, which has made an enormous impact in improving the dental health of local kids, is holding its fifth annual charity golf tournament next week. Even if you're not an avid golfer, learning the good this organization does will make you want to pull out the clubs and give it a go anyway.
Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) began in 2002 when several local dentists and other health care professionals held the first Give Kids a Smile event to provide underserved children with free, comprehensive dental care, including examinations, professional cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, restorations, oral surgery and x-rays. Give Kids A Smile – St. Louis is a not-for-profit organization that continues working to eliminate the silent epidemic of dental disease for the millions of children who cannot sleep, eat properly, pay attention in school, or simply smile.
GKAS holds twice-yearly clinics in St. Louis during which dental health providers donate their time and talents to provide vital dental care to needy kids. "There is an enormous need in our community for the services our biannual clinics provide," said Joan Allen, executive director of Give Kids a Smile. "Each and every dollar we raise make a difference to the children in our community. It's a difference that might not ever be completely understood by those who so graciously give, but the impact is unquestionable at each and every one of our dental clinics. Lives are changed."
So far, GKAS - St. Louis has hosted 17 clinics , providing more than 8,800 local children with a total of more than $8 million in free dental care. The organization also helps provide dental education to kids across the metro area through its partnership with Delta Dental of Missouri and the Delta Dental Health Theater.
And despite being founded just eight years ago, Give Kids A Smile has made a national impact as well. Soon after beginning the Give Kids A Smile project in St. Louis, the American Dental Association adopted the GKAS concept and established a national clinic day each year in February where over a million children are cared for and over $100,000,000 in dental care is provided yearly. St. Louis is excited about this national expansion of the services for children. Despite the national recognition and the ADAs annual clinic, St. Louis Give Kids A Smile continues to be the leader both locally and nationally in developing and implementing access to healthcare services. We continue to develop new and innovative delivery systems to address the needs of children.
Though the Charity Golf Tournament is one way the organization raises funds to provide these clinics and other services, they also hold other events throughout the year. A recent "Great Minds and Hearts" Trivia Night drew a crowd of 360 and raised $16,000. For more information about the June 7 golf tournament, to be held at Bogey Hills Golf and Country Club in St. Charles, or to learn more about how you or your organization can become involved with Give Kids a Smile, call 636-397-6453 or visit www.gkas.org.