If you drove past the Jackson Convention Complex early Friday morning it's likely you saw a long line of people waiting outside. Those folks weren't waiting for a concert, but the chance to go home with a brighter and healthier smile.
The line wrapped around the Jackson Convention Complex looked like a Black Friday line. Hundreds, including Linda Hirsch and her husband camped out for thirteen hours, not to shop, but to have some very basic dental work done.
Hirsch says, "I have seven broken teeth and they need to come out."
A huge portion of the Jackson Convention Complex looks like a massive dental office. More than 100 dentists and hundreds of volunteers are giving back for the two-day Mississippi Mission of Mercy event.
Dr. Ronald Wheeler from Fulton, Mississippi says, "we want to make folks smile and take care of them."
Adults and children without dental insurance or access to programs like Medicaid or CHIP can receive basic dental care for free.
Georgia Cohran is without insurance and says, "it's a Blessing for most people in the city of Jackson who cannot afford to go to the dentist."
Every 20 to 30 minutes nearly 100 people can be seen for care, and it's a good thing that things are moving so quickly because just after six this morning 351 people had already registered for service.
"The needs here and that's why we're here, we want to meet the need and we understand there's a need and that's why we're doing this," says Dr. Mark Donald, the chairman for Mississippi Mission of Mercy.
Jani McCaffrey drove from Gulf Port, Mississippi to have her wisdom teeth removed. She waited outside since Thursday night.
McCaffrey was in severe pain and says "I don't think I could bear it honestly, there were nights I actually considered putting whiskey on it and taking something and pulling it out."
Hirsch had her dental work done too, and one day she wants to return the favor.
Hirsch says, "it really makes me feel good because I hope that one day at some point in my life I'll be able to give back to the community like they're giving to me.
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