On a mission visit to Haiti last year with his mom, Cedar Park Christian School student Ty Morris of Monroe was volunteering at one of the schools Hope for Haiti runs, helping children who are sponsored or are wanting to be sponsored.
That’s when Ty noticed that so many of the people he encountered did not have good dental care, and he made a decision to do something about it.
“When I was in Haiti, I felt sad when I saw the people of Haiti did not have good dental care, so I wanted to collect toothbrushes,” Ty wrote by email, with the help of his parents Glynis and Brad Morris.
The country of Haiti has pulled on Ty’s heartstrings since he was five years old and witnessed the devastation of the massive Haiti earthquake on television in early 2010. He was so moved by what happened that he started a coin drive, raising $3,800 for the people of Haiti.
Continuing to find ways to help the people of Haiti has remained a priority for Ty as he’s gotten older.
So, when the fourth grader returned home from his trip last year, he did some research and found out the country has only one dentist for about every 10,000 citizens. He realized that meant that almost none of the people of Haiti have been to a dentist, and many of them have never even had a toothbrush.
Ty wrote by email that God gave him the idea to collect 2,000 toothbrushes for a second mission trip for Hope for Haiti he and his mother will take this month.
“I told my wonderful teacher, Mrs. Kerr about my goal. She had the idea to talk to the ASB officers at Cedar Park, and they wanted to help collect toothbrushes. It was announced to the school at chapel,” Ty wrote.
That’s when the donations started coming in quickly.
“We didn’t have a formal selection process for this fundraiser. The ASB officers were looking for a meaningful benevolence project in which to engage the student body,” Ty’s teacher, LaWonna Kerr wrote by email.
“They wanted to encourage our students to help others in need and thereby put action to their Christian faith. They knew what Ty wanted to do from talking in class. Ty’s idea was practical, tangible, and allowed everyone to participate. It appealed to all age groups, which is important when your elementary student body includes grades K-5,” Kerr added.
Appeal to all grade levels it did. The students at Cedar Park Christian School brought in over 6,000 dental care items, including about 4,000 toothbrushes, 1,500 tubes of toothpaste, and 600 rolls of dental floss.
Students, including Ty, reached out to local dentists for donations, and several of them gave large donations. Ty personally wrote letters to 35 dentists in the area seeking donations for his toothbrush drive.
“Many students have asked dentists for donations, used their own money or done extra chores around their house to earn money to buy dental items,” Ty’s mom, Glynis wrote by email.
Thanks to the school’s supportive ASB officers, dentist offices, and students, Ty has been able to not only accomplish his original goal, but triple it.
Ty and his mom plan to bring as many of the dental care items they can take when they return to Haiti this month to run a Hope for Haiti Vacation Bible School camp with over 300 children. The remainder they will save to take on a future mission trip.
“I am also going to be handing out toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss to the students at the school and other people in Haiti,” Ty wrote.
Ty’s mom is very appreciative to Cedar Park Christian School for helping Ty’s goal become a reality. “We are so grateful that Ty’s teacher, Mrs. Kerr, paid attention to his desire to help others and came alongside him. Ty did not have to ask for help. She offered to help without hesitation because she wanted to encourage him, help others and give the students at Cedar Park the opportunity to be involved in something that would impact so many,” she wrote.
Hope for Haiti is a U.S.-based charitable organization that serves in the remotest areas of Haiti. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children, through education, nutrition, and healthcare. They work in partnership with the Haitian people to empower their communities on the path toward sustainability.