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Agency arranges back-to-school hair cuts and dental checkups

WIMAUMA

When it was her turn, Lidia Resendiz took a seat and dipped her small hands in a bowl of soapy water. The 8-year-old stretched out her right hand first, watching closely as a volunteer wiped it dry and then dabbed pink paint onto her nails.

"How do you like that?" the woman asked.

Lidia smiled and nodded, blowing on her fingertips.

Next she and her 3-year-old sister had their teeth checked and were off to get their hair cut in another room.

"My mom said just a little bit," Lidia told the stylist as she nudged her little sister forward.

Lidia, who is entering third grade at Boyette Springs Elementary School in Riverview, was one of 700 children treated to an annual back to school makeover at the Good Samaritan Mission this week.

Area professionals donated their time, including stylists from Hair Carvers in Apollo Beach and Sun City Center dentist Dr. Steve Shapiro and his dental hygienists.

Shapiro scanned open mouths with a flashlight, looking for signs of cavities.

"Good!" he told a girl named Daysi, flashing a thumbs up in latex gloves.

"How old are you? Five?" he asked a boy named Jonathan. "You have a couple of cavities. Did you know that?"

He wrote referrals to area clinics for children like Jonathan for follow-up work on their teeth.

Kathy McGartland, a part-time worker at the mission and a dental hygienist in Shapiro's office, said she has seen a lot of improvement in the children's teeth over the years.

Many of them are children of migrant farmworkers and dental care falls by the wayside.

But in the seven years since she has been organizing the event, more children show signs of visiting the dentist, using floss and brushing regularly, she said. This year, the mission won a $5,000 grant from the American Dental Association, which helped supply gift bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste for the children.

The hair cuts and manicures are an added bonus, she said.

"Don't you remember going to school the first day with a hair cut and feeling good?" she said. "We're trying to make these kids feel special."

Saundra Amrhein can be reached at amrhein@sptimes.com or 661-2441.

Agency arranges back-to-school hair cuts and dental checkups 08/07/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 9, 2008 9:13pm]
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