Brushing her teeth one day last spring, Woodcliff Lake teen Paige Alenick had an epiphany. “I was thinking about the little things we take for granted,” she said. “But some kids can’t afford simple necessities like a toothbrush.”
Then 15, Paige decided to do something about her “small idea.”
After doing research on dental health around the world, “I started collecting toothbrushes and asking friends for donations. Then I started reaching out to dentists and suppliers.”
|Paige Alenick surrounded by some of the toothbrushes she has collected. Courtesy Scott Alenick|
She also asked her father, Scott Alenick, for help in making a website to generate publicity for her project. So far, she has received some 5,000 toothbrushes – “one from as far away as California.”
Paige, in turn, sends the collected dental items to World Dental Relief Inc., a non-profit organization that distributes dental supplies and equipment to health-care missions around the world.
“I found out you don’t really need toothpaste,” she said, noting that even using just a toothbrush and water can help maintain one’s teeth.
Helping others is “such an easy thing to do,” she said. “It was a lot of work to get started, but it’s nice to see how many people are donating and to get notes from donors. It’s kind of fun, trying to see how many I can collect.”
Paige, now 16, began doing community service when she was 7. In fact, says her mother, Suzanne Alenick, “Every year since age 7, Paige has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award” for her work with JOY, Joining Old and Young.
“My mom heard about the program on 1010WINS radio,” said Paige, who is now co-president of the group.
The chorus, which performs songs from the 1940s for residents at assisted living facilities, was then composed solely of high school girls. When Paige and her sister Ashley, then 10, said they wanted to sing with the group, however, Suzanne Alenick contacted JOY and got the okay for the girls to participate, “even though they were far younger than others in the group and were the first outsiders ever to join.”
“Thanks to Paige and Ashley, the members of JOY have added Chanukah music to its program, and are favorites at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, where JOY regularly performs to a packed house,” said Alenick, adding that donations given in appreciation following a JOY concert are, in turn, provided to the Make A Wish Foundation.
This, said Paige’s mother, helps create “a beautiful circle of giving…, in line with the core meaning of ‘joining old and young’: The young give the gift of music to the old, who, in turn, give the gift of a wish to a child with cancer.”
“I like to think I’m a good singer,” said Paige, a junior at Pascack Hills High School.
She explained that the President’s Volunteer Service Award is based on the number of hours one puts into a community service program. She has consistently racked up enough hours to get recognition at the “gold” level.”
“I love JOY,” she said, noting that the group rehearses once a week and launches three shows a year. Sometimes, she said, the chorus will perform for an individual in his or her home. It has also sung in venues such as the Jewish Home and the Esplanade.
The concerts, she said, are basically interactive, as seniors share their memories with the youngsters.
“We sing songs from the ’40s and ’50s, but they tell us stories, too,” she said.
For more information, visit http://donateatoothbrush.com.