Bag it, bow it, tag it. Bag it, bow it, tag it. That’s what students in the Kansas Correctional Industries’ Dental Lab at the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF) do roughly 2,000 times each year during the spare minutes that intersperse their regular work of making dentures for patients of the KAMU safety net clinics scattered across Kansas.
The students are bagging, bowing and tagging dental gift bags. The tags convey best wishes for happy holidays from both the TCF Dental Lab and the Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation, and each bag contains a toothbrush, tooth paste and floss provided by the foundation. The gift bags are given at no charge to the Topeka Moving Ahead Program and the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment for distribution, as well as to all the inmates of TCF. While most don’t think of a toothbrush and toothpaste as a gift, many recipients do. For a few of them, it will be the only gift they receive during the holidays.
“The donated dental supplies mean one less thing survivors of abuse have to worry about as they work to increase their safety,” said Laura Burton of the YWCA.
Lea Vincent, of the Topeka Moving Ahead Program, said, “Our participants usually come to us with low self-esteem. We do everything we can to build it back up, and these oral hygiene kits help increase their confidence level. ”
These women are having a personal impact on many lives one smile at a time, Gloria Geither, a mentoring director for the Kansas Department of Corrections, explained.
“These female offenders are improving the oral health of Kansans, while learning important skills to help them succeed when they are released,” Geither said.
The Dental Technician Program at the Topeka Correctional Facility is designed to provide female inmates with education and hands-on experience in the art and science of denture-making, in order to better support themselves and their families upon release. The dentures they create benefit the medically-underserved of Kansas.