PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- During the months-long COVID-19 pandemic, everyone could use a smile.
"We all smile in the same language, so, people that you don't even know...you can smile and it means the same thing," said Jessica Morgan, a dental hygienist with Cobblestone Kids Pediatric Dentistry in Center City.
A healthy smile starts with proper hygiene. However, dental offices across the region were closed to mitigate the spread of the virus. This led many dental hygienists to lose work, including Jessica Morgan.
Jessica, 25, immediately looked for a way to keep her neighbors covered.
She created a community outreach initiative called, "Jess' Kind Little Smiles," which has since grown to become a non-profit. She has given over 500 free toothbrushes to children in underserved areas of South Philadelphia since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
"I saw my neighbors not being able to get food on their table and realized that they're probably not even thinking about their child's teeth," Jessica said.
Tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold, according to Penn State Hershey in a 2018 report.
Jessica fears that children will fall even further behind on their routine checkups now that social distancing orders are in place.
She is not stopping her mission any time soon. She is currently asking for donations to a fall fundraiser that will partner with a food assistance program. If the $2,000 goal is reached, she can pack dental essentials just in time for kids to go back to school.