A Hayes High School junior is collecting oral hygiene supplies in order to help her local community.
Molly Wells, a member of the Global Scholars Program at Hayes, said the dental supply drive is her project for the class. Wells explained that Global Scholars choose charity projects, and she wanted to focus on an underrepresented issue.
“A lot of students do environmental research. I realize those are important, but I wanted to do something that is not as commonly talked about so I did some research and found that oral health is a large issue, globally,” Wells said. “It affects 3.5 billion people. Then I found that in Ohio, it’s the most common unmet health care need.”
For the next month, Wells will be collecting donations of toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss and mouthwash at Hayes, and she will donate all the supplies to the Common Ground Free Store, The Pacer Pantry and People In Need, Inc.
Wells said the project has a personal connection to her family, too.
“My family grew up in southern rural Ohio and northern Kentucky, and (poor oral health) is something that especially affects those areas,” Wells said. “I want to do something that has a real effect on places that my parents grew up. I thought that was a cool connection.”
Wells was invited to speak at the Delaware County Rotary Club meeting on Monday, and she’s already started spreading the word about the project but is metering expectations about the drive during the pandemic.
“I’m happy with where I am right now because I’ve been able to talk to Rotary and get the word out to people in the schools through the announcements,” Wells said. “A lot of students thought it was a really good idea but ever since the pandemic has come around, people have been less involved in school. During our Thanksgiving (charity) drive, donations were very low. I’m hopeful but apprehensive on how much support I’ll actually get.”
Wells said she hopes more students get involved and participate because she believes it’s an important issue.
“Oral health affects more than just your mouth, it affects your entire life,” Wells said. “It affects employment opportunities, it can cause diabetes and heart attacks. It really is an important issue. Many people in our community don’t have access to common goods that will help them.”
Wells said during the middle of February, she’ll be having a competition in Houk House at Hayes to see which class can raise the most supplies in order to win the House Cup.
“Hopefully, I’ll get even more donations then,” she said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.