LAFAYETTE, La., Sept. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- When the nation's greatest natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy struck Louisiana in August, Dr. Tony Soileau, owner of Smiles by Soileau in Lafayette, sent out a simple message on a forum shared by a professional network of 420 Smile Source-affiliated dentists. In stark terms, he told them south Louisiana was about to be under water and he needed as much help as he could get. Not for him, but for the community he loves.
"What we need most of all is scrubs. The families have no dry clothes. Any scrubs you have, even if they are XXXL or Xsmall, it's OK. Holes or names on the scrubs do not matter. They just need something dry," Dr. Soileau wrote.
The Smile Source network responded. Dentists across the country overnighted scrubs, flip-flops, children's clothing, and personal hygiene items directly to Dr. Soileau. The Smile Source dentists shared the post on other forums and sent emails to their community leaders and patients asking them to donate supplies that could be shipped down to Dr. Soileau. Truckloads of supplies started arriving, between 40 and 80 boxes a day, the result of the generosity of the doctors and their communities.
The media coverage receded long before the floodwaters did. The homes were sitting in unclean water for weeks. The Smile Source network of doctors and their affiliated suppliers kept answering the call for help. They sent gloves, masks, bleach, and trash bags that Dr. Soileau's team distributed to homeowners tearing out drywall. They sent blankets and pillows, stuffed animals and coloring books to help the children. Dr. Soileau's team would inventory every box of supplies that came in, and have it loaded on a pickup and distributed within a day to more than a dozen makeshift shelters and churches who were not receiving help yet from the Red Cross or FEMA.
"It's so heartwarming," said Todd Nickerson, the Vice President of Business Development of Smile Source and the head of the Smile Source Foundation. "As a community, our Smile Source is all about helping our independent doctors professionally and personally. It can be hard to ask for help, and we were glad we were able to do this."
There is still a need for more help. This is going to be a difficult holiday season for the people of south Louisiana who have lost so much. Dr. Soileau's team is now collecting presents and gift cards that will go to the children in the Lafayette area.
"Everything is gone. It's not like the flood came in, the flood left, and back to work. No, all of south Louisiana is messed up," said Dr. Soileau. "The families lost everything and the parents don't have any money left. So Christmas is going to be awfully tough this year. Anything we can do to provide a little bit of relief, we're going to do."
Donations can be sent to:
Smiles by Soileau
420 Settlers Trace Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70508
Ashley Newman, Smile Source Marketing Director
(281) 318-7897, Email
Interviews, pictures available
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SOURCE Smile Source