Toys for Tots dental donations

March 21, 2012

It won’t be long before children will creep out of their beds at night hoping to see a glimpse of jolly, red-suited Santa sliding down the chimney with a bag full of wrapped presents. Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are approaching and one dental practice, My Family Dental Centers, wants to make the holiday season merry for everyone – including the youngest members of their communities. Office staffers began making preparations in October to ensure that all children have presents to unwrap.

It won’t be long before children will creep out of their beds at night hoping to see a glimpse of jolly, red-suited Santa sliding down the chimney with a bag full of wrapped presents.

Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are approaching and one dental practice, My Family Dental Centers, wants to make the holiday season merry for everyone – including the youngest members of their communities. Office staffers began making preparations in October to ensure that all children have presents to unwrap.

The dental practice, which has 10 locations in Arizona, started collecting donations this month for the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Drive. This is the second year that the business has collected money for the drive. Last year, it brought in $5,000 for the charity and this year it has set a much more ambitious goal of $20,000.

Dr. Eric Kerbs, principal owner, said the dental group chose Toys for Tots because it is linked to the military, is a well-regarded charity, and serves children.

The business is not located near a military base nor does it have an unusual number of military patients, but Kerbs said they have found that many of their patients have relatives or friends in the armed services.

“It made us realize how many of our patients have connections to someone serving in the military,” Kerbs said. “Based on the volumes of people being deployed there are usually only one, two or three degrees of separation between a patient and a member of the armed services.”

Though it is a toy drive, the practice has not set out bins to collect toys. Instead it is dedicating $5 of the $25 cost of every new patient exam to be donated to Toys for Tots.

Kerbs said the Marines told them they would prefer a cash donation because it presents fewer logistical issues than collecting toys that would have to be transported and stored. 

“We’ve always done the new patient special for $25, but during the holidays we commit $5 of that to donate to Toys for Tots,” Kerbs said.

Kerbs said the idea of giving $5 of every new patient exam is popular among patients who like knowing they are helping a good cause. Based on the $5,000 they collected last year, the practice drew in 200 new patients during the drive.

The charitable effort has created a sense of community among patients and staff alike who Kerbs said get people get excited about the prospect of helping others in need, especially during the holidays.

Linking the effort to the new patient exam has enabled the practice to create a feeling of good will and has also helped the staff get acquainted with new patients who may make My Family Dental Centers their dental home for years to come. 

For any other dental practice considering getting involved in a charitable effort, Kerbs said he would first recommend ensuring that the charity chosen is a respected entity. Then he said move it to the top of the priority list.

Given the long list of other duties that are part of running a practice, it’s easy to see how getting involved in a charity could fall to the bottom. But Kerbs said he’d tell other dentists to move it to the top. The rewards of supporting the community far outweigh any other considerations, such as staff time or organizational effort that may be involved in starting a charity drive. 

“Just do it,” he said.

My Family Dental Centers will continue collecting donations for the toy drive through January.