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We had a big task--assemble 30,000 dental health kits to distribute to Lane County children. It was a huge lift, but we knew we could count on our community to help make it happen. In the end, over 290 volunteers from 19 organizations, along with 20 community members, stepped up to help.

This project came to us through the Coughlin family, owners of Burley in Eugene, as a simple way to help conquer the dental health crisis in our community. By providing dental health kits to young children (ages 3-10) we can plant the seed for good oral hygiene. This is a great cause, and many local businesses signed up to lend a hand. They expected to make a difference, but they also got a bonus -- a fun team building activity.

“Personalities really come out when you do a project like this. You can really see how people like to work,” said United Way of lane County Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Julie DiBiase. “Some teams chose to individually place materials into kits, while others decided to use a traditional assembly line process. Some were chatty, and some were quiet and more focused. It was really what worked best for each team and it was fun to see how that evolved for each group.”

Local businesses weren’t the only ones who turned out to lend a hand. We were lucky to have a family with young children join the crew as well. We discovered that one of the kids was the only person able to fix the broken zippers on the pouches. He turned out to be an extremely valuable team member, saving over 100 pouches at the end of the day.

Starting February 9, schools will be picking up the kits to be distributed to the children. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this project happen. We look forward to seeing all of those healthy smiles!

Looking to volunteer in our community? Julie DiBiase, jdibiase@unitedwaylane.org

To make a donation to this project, contact Sylvia, sbarry@unitedwaylane.org