Rotary Club vows to raise $100K for children's dental clinic

The Van Landingham Rotary Club on Hilton Head Island has committed to raising $100,000 over the next two years to expand the children's dental clinic at Volunteers in Medicine, according to a news release Thursday.

The club's funding will help VIM relocate its dental unit within the clinic to accommodate an expanded children's dental program, the release said. The new facilities will allow the clinic to increase children's dental care by about 30 percent. VIM will seek additional money needed to complete the dental clinic move and expansion.

"Although 13 percent of the clinic's patients are children, they represent one-third of all dental patients, or nearly 2,000 patient visits each year," Dr. Anthea Grogono, dental clinic director, said in the release. "We are delighted that the Van Landingham Rotary will help us see and treat more children."

Grogono said it is not unusual to have 3- or 4-year-olds visit the dental clinic for the first time with their primary teeth decayed to the gum line.

"What really struck us is that the closest facility for reduced-cost dentistry is 28 miles away," Lew Wessell, president of the Van Landingham Rotary Club, said in the release.

For the past 17 years, the club has raised money at an annual television auction hosted by Sonny Dixon on Savannah-based WTOC-TV. This year's event is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 27.

The club recently completed its $350,000 fundraising commitment to the Children's Center on Hilton Head.