By Maya Pottiger
It took Brooke Hodges and her mom 20 minutes to check out at the Dollar Store. Their cart was filled to the brim with dental supplies.
A woman in line asked what the supplies were for.
Since Christmas 2014, Brooke, now 14 years old, has done a dental drive to help the less fortunate. During her second year volunteering with Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy, Brooke noticed that there was a need for dental items. She asked her mom if they could help.
“We [thought], ‘Why don’t we do a collection drive and see what we can get,’ thinking we would just get a handful of stuff,” said Antoinette Hodges, Brooke’s mom. “It ended up being thousands of items.”
Now running her fifth annual dental drive, Brooke has a network of dental offices and donors, including Dr. Ryan Gens of Bay Hills Family Dentistry and Michelle Tate of Pediatric Dental Specialists.
“I’m really, really impressed with her being so motivated to help out the community and being so driven,” Gens said. “She came in on her own last year and, rather than being led by her mom, she was very forthright in telling me what she wanted to do. I think she’s doing a fantastic job.”
Tate said she continues to “be impressed by Brooke’s heart and determination to help others.”
“It is a rare thing to find a person that dedicated to seeing to the needs of others, and especially one so young,” Tate said.
Brooke donates her dental items to numerous organizations in Anne Arundel County: Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy; Blue Ribbon Project; Winter Relief; as well as schools, women’s shelters and family shelters.
This year, Brooke is focusing on dental items for children.
“There are many children in homeless shelters, and I’m trying to give enough dental items this year,” Brooke said.
Brooke starts collecting items in October and continues through December 21. Any donations she receives after that date will be donated to Winter Relief in January and February.
“My favorite part is the look on people’s faces when they receive something they don’t have,” Brooke said. “Homeless people are in need of these necessities and they are very thankful for any help. I like meeting the children a lot and connecting with them.”
In addition to her dental drive, Brooke volunteers with the Thrive youth group at Centerpoint Church Kent Island. She plans on volunteering at the Animal Welfare League of Queen Anne’s County. In May, Brooke was recognized as one of What’s Up Magazine’s Super Kids.
“I feel it is important [to give back] because we should all help those in need, and I want to inspire anyone and everyone to do what they can to help,” Brooke said.