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Students support local dentist’s charity

Hayley Miller | Thursday, September 27, 2012

Several St. Mary’s and Notre Dame students volunteered their time Saturday during Mahoney Family Dentistry’s second annual “Dentistry from the Heart” event, providing 297 people in the South Bend community with free dental care. Close to 200 people camped out the night before to ensure a spot for the 6 a.m. registration.

A total of five local dentists and 75 volunteers, under the leadership of Dr. Terrance Mahoney, provided exams, cleanings and fillings for underprivileged citizens 18 years old and older, Dr. Mahoney said.

“You get back more than you are giving and to know you can make a difference in someone’s life is so rewarding,” Dr. Mahoney said. “Access to care is the major problem in dental health care right now because many people don’t have insurance.”

Dr. Mahoney said this year’s “Dentistry from the Heart” event provided close to $125,000 in dental work. The money came from both Mahoney Family Dentistry and generous donations from sponsors such as Heraeus Dental Supplies, he said.

Volunteers ranged from Notre Dame seniors planning to attend dental school to parishioners of local churches, he said. Dental students from the community also gathered to provide education and advice on oral health to those waiting outside.

St. Mary’s junior Kathryn Mahoney and daughter of Dr. Mahoney said she felt honored to be able to give back.

“It was a great opportunity to serve the community,” Kathryn Mahoney said.  “It was truly an amazing experience to see so many different people come together and help provide such an expensive necessity for absolutely free.”

St. Mary’s junior and volunteer Brookelin Propestsaid it was a day well spent.

“Dr. Mahoney and his office touched the lives of both the people who received the free dental care and the volunteers who witnessed it,” Propes said.  “Everyone involved made a huge impact in the lives of the community.”

Local businesses Einstein Bagels, Martin’s Supermarket and Papa Vino’s provided breakfast and lunch throughout the day, and Kevin’s Guitar Studio students played live entertainment throughout the afternoon.

From registration at 6 a.m. to the final person served at 8 p.m., Dr. Mahoney said the day was a successful one for the community.

“The people were extremely thankful and many of them shed tears of gratitude,” Dr. Mahoney said.

Mahoney Family Dentistry will also be holding a free day of dental care just for children in February.  Dr. Mahoney said he and his associates hope to see even more students from the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame communities for another day of giving back.