As thousands of families in Baton Rouge are working to put their lives back together, people across the country are looking for ways to help. For members of the Birmingham community, a local dental office is offering an opportunity to provide aid to those affected by the flooding.
Just Kids Dental, a Birmingham-based dental office with three locations in Louisiana, is collecting and delivering supplies to the roughly 18,000 families that they serve in the Baton Rouge area. While the Baton Rouge office was not damaged in the flood, staff members felt the effects of the disaster, and Just Kids’ efforts began as an attempt to help them rebuild.
“We have had two of our own staff who lost everything, so we’re coordinating efforts to help them out,” said Chief Operating Officer Kay Oplinger. She and the others within the organization plan to assist in the rebuilding efforts for those employees who lost their homes in the flooding. “Some are now homeless, some are living with friends,” said Vickie Beard, coordinator of Flood Relief with Just Kids Dental, “and we’ll be rebuilding and fixing their homes.”
After seeing the devastation throughout the area, however, Chief Executive Officer Chris Beard realized that there was more work to be done. “After we arrived we knew we had to do much more,” he said in a press release issued by Just Kids. “Not only were our employees and their families affected, so was a great deal of our patient population and their families.”
“A lot of our families — the patients’ families — have lost everything,” said Oplinger. In response, the team has begun efforts to deliver supplies to the affected families.
“Whether it’s food or clothing or child care issues, we’re helping with all of that,” said Vickie Beard.
So far, volunteers have delivered two truckloads of supplies including food, clothing, camping gear and cleaning supplies to combat the growth of mold. They plan to continue sending trucks every few days and have partnered with other local businesses to set up donation centers throughout Birmingham. “We will keep up the effort as long as the items come in,” said Vickie Beard. On Saturday, August 27, the volunteers are teaming up with a local church to provide lunch for the families and distribute the supplies.
“Our team saw firsthand a disaster that will not be overcome by the good people of Baton Rouge alone,” said Chris Beard. “We all have to do our part.”
For anyone who wants to assist with the efforts, Oplinger says that the best way to help is to take donations to the Just Kids Dental Birmingham location at 2320 Seventh Ave. S. “They can drop off anything that they would like to donate, and we’ll make sure that it gets down there in the next day or two,” she said. Donations can also be delivered to Odyssey Early School at Trace Crossings, Lifetime Fitness Center in Vestavia Hills or Shades Valley International Baccalaureate School. They will also be accepted this Saturday, August 27, at the Indian Springs Farmer’s Market.
Supplies needed include but are not limited to bottled water, toiletries, diapers, baby formula, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies, school supplies, bug repellent, non-perishable food items and hand sanitizer — as well as pet supplies, food and cages.
In addition to donating supplies, community members can help by offering financial support through the organization’s Go Fund Me page at gofundme.com/2jrqadxs. They can also give to the Greater Baton Rouge Area Food Bank at brfoodbank.org or the Baton Rouge Area Foundation at braf.org.