An enterprising young lady in Westport, Conn., has enlisted the help of her church in her effort to assist children and adults in Honduras with dental care. High school student Lindsey Baldwin is spending the month of October, National Dental Hygiene month, running a toothbrush and oral care products drive so she can personally deliver them to villagers during a mission trip in February.
Working on behalf of Cape Cares, a humanitarian non-profit organization that sends volunteer teams to its clinics in remote, mountainous areas of Honduras to provide free medical and dental care, Lindsey has set up multiple donation bins in the Westport area — in local pharmacies, dental offices, her father’s workplace, and in the front hallway of Saugatuck Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.
“Lindsey has been on several mission trips with Saugatuck Congregational Church, traveling to Colorado, Puerto Rico and Arizona,” said her mother, Elizabeth Baldwin. “These trips have been integral to her developing a real desire to be in service to others and resulted in her pursuing this mission work with Cape Cares.”
“My grandfather has been involved with Cape Cares since my father was a young child,” Lindsey said. “When he [dad] was in high school he went on his first trip, and he continued to attend the trips after that. My grandfather worked as a dentist with some of the people who still go on the trip today.
“Cape Cares believes that everyone deserves and needs dental care, whether or not they are able to afford it. Poor dental hygiene can cause gum cancer and disease, tooth loss, mouth pain, and more serious issues such as cardiac and respiratory diseases,” Lindsey continued. “I aspire to work in the medical field when I am older, so I have been interested in going on one of these service trips with my grandfather since he began showing me pictures and telling me about his experiences.”
Lindsey will be accompanying her grandfather on his next trip, “carrying on his dedication to the people of Honduras,” her mother said. “She will not only distribute the vast dental supplies that she has collected, but also help with the delivery of medical and dental care while she is there. This will no doubt be a remarkable experience and it will continue to nourish her love for mission work.”
“When I asked my pastor, [the Rev. Alison Buttrick Patton], if she would support my drive, she was very excited to help!” Lindsey said, noting that the pastor gave her a collection of toothbrushes for her drive. “I really appreciate all of the support that my church gives me in my service work, including my toothbrush drive and the mission trips that we go on.”
“Lindsey attends youth group every week and consistently participates in service projects outside of our annual trips,” said Dana Johnson, director of Children's Ministries and volunteer youth coordinator. “My first inclination that she is ‘living the mission’ was in Denver, where she asked her driver to pull over so she could go into a fast food restaurant to buy lunch for a homeless person sitting outside. Of course, the driver stopped. As privileged as Lindsey is, she will always stop for a person in need.”
“Lindsey has been active at Saugatuck all her life,” said Patton. “Lindsey was confirmed in the church, participates in youth group and has gone on youth mission trips, which were at least partly responsible for inspiring this project.
“This trip is a great opportunity for Lindsey to be briefly immersed in another culture, contribute something meaningful and learn from those she will meet. We are excited to hear about her trip. when she returns. We know, from the service trips that we've taken together, that the experiences change us as much as those with whom we connect.”
Lindsey said she hopes to influence and inspire others in her community with her mission work.
“This is my first time joining my grandfather in Honduras and I am very excited to experience all of the amazing things that both my father and my grandfather have told me about this trip for myself. I will be bringing all the donations on the plane with me in my suitcase and then personally distributing them. I know that the work I am doing and all of the support I have received from various local stores, places of worship, friends, family and large companies will light up the smiles of these people. Originally my goal for donations on my Facebook fundraiser was $1000, but I recently surpassed that goal thanks to everyone on Facebook who saw my drive and decided to help out.”
So far Lindsey has collected on Facebook to purchase supplies. Her collected donations come to a total of approximately 500 toothbrushes, around 215 tubes of toothpaste and 288 cartridges of dental floss.
“Lindsey has received an outpouring of support,” her mother said. “The fact that she has already surpassed her goal is surprising, but I think it is because people are impressed by and pleased to see a young person with so much passion to help others.”