CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Staff at a local dentist office in Orange Park say charity starts right here at home.

On Saturday, March 12, Sunrise Emergency & Family Dental Care on Wells Road will be hosting an event called Smiles for Miles 904 that will provide free dental care to adult patients who can’t afford or to those who don’t have insurance.

The 2nd annual event will start at 8 a.m. and 100 people will have the chance to receive services from the team of dentists, hygienists and dental assistants.

Dr. Michael Thomasino is the owner of the dentist office in Orange Park, as well as two other offices.

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Patients will have the chance to be treated through X-rays, exams, extractions and fillings, to name a few.

“We’ve always liked mission trips, so we said, ‘why not have it here at home?’” Thomasino said.

If you are interested, you need to register ahead of time to secure your spot.

On Thursday, March 10, you’ll have the chance to do just that on-site at their location on Wells Road from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., on a first-come, first-served basis.

There, the Baptist Health mobile van will be working with the office to screen for financial eligibility.

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Thomasino said the event will be bigger and better than last year, when they served 77 patients and provided more than $45,000 worth of donated services. The line wrapped around the building.

“That just shows us in the community that there’s so much need, and it’s probably more than ever because of COVID,” Thomasino said. “Everyone got delayed with treatment, and they haven’t gotten the treatment they needed. We’re going to give them a way to do that.”

There will also be dental hygiene students on-site who will be giving out oral hygiene instructions for the patients.

“We got involved in dentistry, because we’re good with our hands and we have an affinity for it,” Thomasino said. “But the business part of it sometimes gets in the way. This allows us to treat people without having to worry about all that other stuff and just to give the way we want to give.”

Thomasino said the plan is for there to be five operating rooms at Saturday’s event, and the goal is to serve five patients every 20 minutes.

“That gratitude that you see with the patients is why we do it,” Thomasino said.

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