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Dozens in Samoset screened for free dental services

MANATEE — Several local dentists are poised to offer their services for free to dozens of residents next week after a day of screening Saturday at a Samoset community center.

Residents showed up at the Oasis Center, 3124 17th St. E., to be screened for free dental care being offered to low-income families.

It is part of a project led by Woodland – The Community Church in which several dentists have volunteered to see patients free of charge at Oasis Monday through Friday this week, according to Woodland’s project manager Jack Riley.

The patients were screened for financial status and an assessment of dental needs. Beginning Monday, a van that serves as a mobile dentist office operated by the Florida Baptist Convention will arrive at Oasis. Inside, volunteer dentists from Bradenton and Sarasota will provide dental services from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day this week to those screened Saturday.

Screenings had been scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., but when Riley looked out the window of the Oasis Center at 6 a.m., 30 people were already in line. More than 70 people were screened throughout the day.

“I was so surprised. They just kept coming and coming all day,” Riley said. “This is good for us and it is good for the community.”

Manatee resident Melody Lanier agreed. She arrived for a screening and praised the opportunity to receive dental care. “This is a great service for my family, we needed it.” she said.

— Herald staff photojournalist Grant Jefferies contributed to this report.