While Operation Brush mainly focuses donor’s contributions to supplying children toothbrushes through partner non-profits. We do, upon request, give donors toothbrushes to distribute if they are vacationing in a developing part of the world.
Personally distributing our toothbrushes to underprivileged children in developing regions around the world is a great way to directly experience the impact such a simple tool has on children’s lives. There is a touching story that I will soon share about the first time we sent toothbrushes to an individual for distribution.
The only requirement to receive Operation Brush’s biodegradable toothbrushes is that you are a recurring donor to our organization. There is no minimum and there is no maximum to this program. If you contribute, say, $5 dollars per month and you are heading to a developing region, we will supply you with up to 50 toothbrushes to pass out to children in need when there. While 50 is the one-time limit, you can request 50 or less up to twice a year. It is not a requirement, but we do ask that you try your best and take photos for us if possible. Because we do not spend money on traveling ourselves, we rely on organizations and individuals to help us retrieve information from the areas they operate in or are briefly traveling to.
The first time we sent toothbrushes to an individual, Mike Mead, for distribution in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica, we had no idea what to expect. Would the kids not really care about receiving a toothbrush? Would they possibly reject the gift? All of these questions were unknown because it was our first time and Mike Meads first time. When Mike shared his experience on his Facebook page when he returned, myself along with many others were taken by complete surprise.
*Taken from Mike’s Facebook page*
“I have a friend who started a non-profit called operationbrush.org that brings biodegradable toothbrushes to developing countries. Since they’re new, the way they’re getting these toothbrushes out is to ask people who are already traveling to these countries to bring some with them. I thought it would be a nice thing to do so I brought a 100 with me. We decided the public school in Playa Jaco would be a great candidate. Talked with a director from a Private school who told us a majority of the kids who go to that public school don’t have food at home and school is the one place they can go get a healthy meal. Perfect. So I dropped the toothbrushes off and asked if I might be able to come back and take some pictures when they hand them out. I came back the next day and went around to each class with a staff member who explained to the kids what they were getting and what they need to do with them. As we got to the first class, all I thought I would do was hang by the door and snap some pics with my phone. Little did I know the teachers would bring the kids together at the front of the room and have them all say together in their best english, “Welcome to our class, Mike. Thank you for coming.” This alone made it all worth it. Then came the looks on their faces when the staff member would hand them a toothbrush. Each kid grabbed that thing like they had been waiting for one of these their whole lives. Each student said “thank you Mike” as soon as they got their hands on it. Then they’d look around at the other kids and show off their new brush to the kids who didn’t have one yet almost as if to say “look what I got and you guys are getting one too!” We went to 4 or 5 different classrooms and every time was the same thing. Just a bunch of really appreciative, beautiful little kids acting like it was Christmas time. In the last class I went to, there was one little girl who didn’t wait for the teacher to tell em why I was there. As soon as I walked in she came up and said hello, introduced herself and thanked me for coming to their class. It totally blew me away. I watched the last of the brushes get handed out I started to think I might have done something a little more then just help a friend get his non-profit out there. As I said thank you for having me and goodbye to the kids, that same little girl stopped me before I could leave. She grabbed my hand and looked me dead in the eyes and said “I just want to thank you Mike for the toothbrush. This is the best thing anybody has ever done for me.” I didn’t know what else to say but you’re welcome. As I was leaving the school, I thought back on what the little girl said and how genuinely happy everyone was and didn’t have booth feet out the front gate before I started crying like a 3 year old. I don’t mean a tear came to my eye either. We’re talking full fledge sobbing with bottom lip getting sucked in and hard to breathe crying. I walked home 3 miles on the highway with my shirt balled up over my face the whole time. I still don’t know exactly what the emotion was that caused It. All I know is I get that same exact emotion every time I tell the story, every time I think about it and now I realize I can’t even type the story without getting it. I got one of the best feelings i’ve ever had and all it took was a vacation I was already going on and some space in my bag. The “pay” I got for the “work” I did made me feel like the richest person in the world. If you know anyone getting ready to travel and they want to turn a vacation into one of the greatest experiences of their life, share this with them or tell them to go to operationbrush.org. Or you can just share this to let everyone know i’m a cry baby. Thanks for reading!” – Mike Mead
Source link here.
When Operation Brush first started we just wanted to get toothbrushes out to as many children in need as possible. After our eagerness simmered down a little we realized we needed to impact children’s lives for the long-term. It was for this reason that we decided to stop randomly distributing toothbrushes to various people and organizations and enter into long-term partnerships so that we would be able to distribute 2 toothbrushes a year to the same children, while simultaneously collecting data on their oral hygiene as they progress through adolescents. But we could not give up the opportunity for people who believe in Operation Brush’s mission to experience just how important something so basic is to those who do not have much. So we decided to still allow individuals to distribute our toothbrushes so long as they are contributing to our organization. We do this all for the simple, but very real nonetheless, experience that both the distributor and the children feel in that moment. The moment when completely different people, from completely different backgrounds, bond solely on a humanistic level that was bridged by a tool that costs pennies.