Indian Hills students brighten orphans’ smiles

Students at Indian Hills Elementary school in Pocatello held a special charitable event to bring smiles to orphaned children in the Philippines. They identified three orphanages that badly need toothbrushes and helped supply them. (Submitted Photo)

Students at Indian Hills Elementary school in Pocatello held a special charitable event to bring smiles to orphaned children in the Philippines. They identified three orphanages that badly need toothbrushes and helped supply them. (Submitted Photo)

By Idaho State Journal Staff

POCATELLO — A group of Filipino orphans have brighter smiles thanks to students at Indian Hills Elementary school.

It all began when fifth-grade teacher Susan Chandler started sharing stories about family members who have worked at orphanages in the Philippines and the amazing lack of simple oral hygiene items including toothbrushes.

This information was shared with the student council at Indian Hills, and it launched an effort to help, according to Patty Fonnesbeck, who is a social worker at Indian Hills and helps supervise the student leadership group.

An assembly was held, and student body officer and fifth-grader Carter Felde urged students to pitch in and help the orphans. Pocatello dentist Mike Sutton explained the importance of good oral health to the students. And fifth-grade teacher Alisa O’Berry shared stories about conditions at Philippine orphanages where children had to share toothbrushes.

A drive to collect toothbrushes was launched.

“We gathered 1,678 toothbrushes in three days,” Fonnesbeck said.

For students who couldn’t afford to buy a new toothbrush, the school accepted donations of 25 cents. That brought in another $50.

“The kids were so excited,” Fonnesbeck said. “It was nice.”

The donations were packed up and made a trip to the Philippines last week.