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I started by asking friends and family for toothbrush donations and soon collected several hundred. Through a combination of social media (Website, Twitter, Facebook), old-fashioned methods (letters written to dentists nationwide as well as publicity through the radio, newspaper and magazine articles), toothbrush drives that churches, synagogues, schools and Scout troops held as well as meetings with toothbrush manufacturers, I have collected over 38,000 toothbrushes. I have given these to a charity called World Dental Relief that, in turn, has distributed them in 20 countries worldwide as part of the hundreds of dental missions it sponsors each year.
As my organization grew, I learned valuable networking skills by attending conferences such as the Annual New Jersey Governors Conference on Volunteerism where Donate-A-Toothbrush was selected as one of only two on-site volunteer events. I was also fortunate enough to be a guest speaker at the 2012 Emerging Global Leaders Seminar at Fairleigh Dickinson University where I gave a lecture on teen leadership to about 100 delegates from Asia, Africa and the United States prior to their attending the 12th annual UN Youth Assembly. In addition to the wonderful leadership and networking skills I acquired, I have learned a great deal about myself and how it is possible for a small organization to make a large difference in the world.
I know how fortunate I am to have a simple tool like a toothbrush at my disposal everyday. For many, it is a luxury that is the most basic way to prevent dental disease and something that we largely take for granted. I am overjoyed at being able to give others less fortunate than I a way to improve their health.
I would love to have anyone reading this strongly consider starting a toothbrush drive and helping bring better dental health to those less fortunate. Please visit http://donateatoothbrush.com for more information. Thank you for your support.
Paige Alenick, Founder of Donate-A-Toothbrush, is a high school senior in New Jersey who has been actively involved in community service since the age of 7. She will be attending college in New York starting in September.
You can connect with Donate-A-Toothbrush on Facebook and Twitter!