As graduate student Nicole Mendoza sat listening to a guest speaker in her research methods class at Cal State San Bernardino talk about a study that led to a campaign for better oral hygiene among first-graders, Mendoza thought about how she and her work colleagues could help the researcher.
It happened right around the time that Mendoza, who is also employed in the university’s College of Extended Learning as a program assistant in the International Extension Program, was considering other opportunities to volunteer. She wanted to give back to the community through her department’s “50 Ways to Serve” campaign, as part of CSUSB’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
The speaker, Margie Arnett, assistant professor at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, was sharing the story that ultimately led to a toothbrush drive in San Bernardino.
Within 30 days, CEL employees collected more than 100 new toothbrushes to help with Arnett’s donation drive. As a result, the toothbrush drive continues and campus employees are encouraged to bring new toothbrushes to the CEL office in Sierra Hall room 134.
Four years ago, Arnett was speaking about oral hygiene to a first-grade class at Jefferson Hunt Elementary School in San Bernardino, when a little boy asked her, “What color are the bristles of a toothbrush supposed to be?” After explaining that they should be white, he shared with Arnett that his were brown.
“I wondered how many other children had discolored toothbrushes or if they even owned a toothbrush,” said Arnett.
Troubled by the question, Arnett conducted a study of more than 3,000 first-grade students in San Bernardino in 2013-2014. She found that 9 percent of them did not own a toothbrush, while 25 percent reported oral pain.
“I was so thrilled to speak at CSUSB, which led to this toothbrush drive,” said Arnett when she picked up the toothbrushes. “No child in this city should be in (oral) pain. And this will inevitably bring more toothbrushes. Cavities are preventable, and if we can help with this, children will not miss school due to oral pain.”
Jane Payne, CEL marketing director, said, “This is a part of our ‘50 Ways to Serve’ campaign. We have done a variety of different things—worked with different high schools and at book fairs, to name a few.”
According to a recent study from the Pew Center, Arnett said, “volunteering provides hope to others, and hope is always associated with positive outcomes, even higher GPAs.”
Mendoza said she felt really good about being able to get her fellow employees involved in the drive.
So much so that Mendoza together with CEL colleague Elaine Chacon, program administrator in IEP, who coordinated the drive, are inspired to continue collecting toothbrushes to donate to the Assistance League of San Bernardino, the non-profit organization that provides the toothbrushes to underserved children.
CEL employees have already accomplished 33 of their “50 Ways to Serve” through volunteer service or donations to campus entities and many Inland Empire organizations and charity causes.
Some of their activities include food donations to CSUSB’s Distributing Emergency Nourishment (DEN); business clothing to the Career Center; Christmas gift donations to CSUSB students formerly in foster care; Feria Educativa; St. Jude’s walk for children’s cancer; a Children’s Fund toy drive; volunteered at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital; a clothing drive for Disabled American Vets; wrote cards and letters to military troops with the “A Million Thanks” project; raised money for the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House Walk for Kids; and many others.
Upcoming service activities include:
- April 23, Relay for Life walk for American Cancer Society
- April 29, Book drive for John M. Pfau Library
- May 16, School backpack drive for United Way’s “Kids Pack” program
- May 16, Donation drive for United Way’s “School Tools” program
CEL also plans to organize a linen/blanket drive for a local women’s shelter as well as for a local animal shelter at dates to be determined.
Visit the CSUSB College of Extended Learning website to learn more about its programs.
About Cal State San Bernardino:
Set in the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, Cal State San Bernardino is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015-2016, CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually.