Madison County, Ala. (WHNT) - As of Thursday morning, work is officially underway at Madison Crossroads Elementary School in Toney to bring free dental and vision care to hundreds of disadvantaged children whose parents likely cannot afford it.
The new project for HEALS, Inc. will mean a new addition to the school campus.
Dozens of school children came outside to follow their teacher in physical education, hardly aware of the gathering of community leaders, supporters, volunteers and staff members of HEALS, Inc. going on just a few hundred feet away.
The officials broke ground on what will be a new facility used to deliver free vision and dental care to the children, at no charge to them.
"Students come in and are not currently receiving dental care," said Mitzi Dennis, principal at Madison Crossroads Elementary School. "So what this means is that when they come in now and they do not have a dentist or dental insurance, we're going to be able to serve them here at school."
Dennis is grateful to HEALS, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is bringin free medical, dental and vision care to the youngsters.
"These precious children may not have access and it's very hard for their parents who are working," said Ginger Harper, the HEAL, Inc. Board President.
Officials say 57 % of the 1,000 children at the school, pre-k through 5th grade, from low income households.
The new facility will be added onto the trailer and built as a gift by various local businesses.
A year and a half ago, HEALS, Inc. opened a doctor-staffed medical facility at the school, and logged about 1000 visits from children seeking medical treatment.
Dennis says as a result, student attendance went from around 89% to nearly 97%.
HEALS, Inc. expects the new dental and vision care to help hundreds more.
"The need now is going to be for the community to get behind us as far as being able to staff it up with dentists and dental hygienists and folks to deliver the care," said Connie Carnes, HEALS, Inc. Executive Director.
You can learn more about HEALS, Inc. and how to donate to their mission and projects by clicking here.