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Local dentists donate toothbrushes

Valencia couple provides dental supplies to homeless on Skid Row

Posted: December 12, 2008 9:11 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 4:55 a.m.
Allen and Kelly Smudde are cleaning up Skid Row - one smile at a time.

The Valencia dentists donated six boxes of toothbrushes and a box full of toothpaste tubes to a Santa Clarita Valley organization that will distribute them to homeless people on Skid Row today.

Christina Findley of Canyon Country and Nancy Burgos of North Hollywood, co-founders of future nonprofit corporation Ffena, traveled to Los Angeles' Skid Row in early November to hand out food, clothing, water and toiletries to the homeless.

"In speaking with some of the people we encountered, we learned many of them wanted something we didn't have with us, a basic necessity that had not been donated, nor had I even thought to bring, a commodity I apparently had taken for granted ... a simple toothbrush and toothpaste," Findley said.
Findley and Burgos considered purchasing toothbrushes themselves, but decided first to see what kind of help they could enlist from local dentists. They mailed out 60 letters to dentists in Pasadena, North Hollywood and Valencia.

After several weeks of not hearing from any dentists, Findley and Burgos were about to give up.
Then they heard from the Smuddes' office.

"To this day, the Smuddes were the only dentist office to respond to our letter," Findley said. "I cannot express how grateful I am to live in a community with such generous people."

Findley said they received the total number of toothbrushes they were hoping to get from multiple dentist offices from just one.

"They seemed nonchalant, like it was no big deal," she said. But Findley said she wants them to understand, "how important this is and how much this means."

Janae Ree, office manager for the Smuddes, who could not be reached for comment, said that giving, even during hard economic times, is "just the type of people (the Smuddes) are."

"Usually I open all their mail and give it to them," Ree said. "(They are) really generous with everything they have and it was such a simple request they couldn't say ‘no.'"

Findley and Burgos will return to Skid Row with the In His Shoes organization on Saturday to pass out the toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Skid Row is located in central Los Angeles where the homeless population is estimated to be 7,000 to 8,000.


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