Club 22

Electric Cooperatives partner with Horizon Health Foundation to protect children’s smiles

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(HOWARD, SD) – Horizon Health Foundation is partnering with Central Electric Cooperative, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, and East River Electric Power Cooperative to decrease cavities and tooth decay in young children through a $6,000 donation to Horizon’s Smiles for Miles program.

Seeing a need for pediatric dental care in rural areas, Horizon piloted a children’s oral health campaign, “Smiles for Miles,” in 2018. The Smiles for Miles program is a month-long promotion held at Horizon dental clinics, allowing children ages 0-5 to receive a free dental exam, cleaning, and fluoride treatment during the month of October.

Since more than 50% of kindergarteners have never seen the dentist and 40% of these children have cavities by that time, the Smiles for Miles program puts children one step closer to good dental hygiene by encouraging regular checkups from a young age. During October 2021, Horizon dental clinics saw 187 children ages 0-5 for the Smiles for Miles program.

"This gesture demonstrates our cooperative principles and commitment to the communities we serve,” said Tara Miller, Central Electric Cooperative Manager of Communications. “Electric cooperatives were founded when people came together to solve a problem, and that's what Horizon is doing through this program. Last year, Smiles for Miles benefited nearly 100 kids in Central Electric's footprint, so there is a real need in our communities. We are pleased to support area families with our partners at East River Electric Power Cooperative and Basin Electric Power Cooperative."

Central Electric has a wide footprint in Horizon communities across the state, including Fort Thompson and rural areas around Plankinton, Howard, Wessington Springs and Woonsocket. All eight Horizon dental locations participate in the Smiles for Miles promotion, which includes clinics at Martin, Faith, Wessington Springs, Plankinton, De Smet, Howard, Yankton, and Alcester. Patients from Horizon’s other 14 clinic sites and the surrounding communities also participate in the program. Since the program’s conception, 769 children have received free dental care.

“The Smiles for Miles program ensures that children across South Dakota have access to dental care, even in rural communities,” said Michelle Scholtz, Chief Dental Officer. “We’re so grateful for all of the partnerships with local businesses to help ensure young children receive the dental care they need to prevent future oral problems.”

Horizon Health Foundation recently received matching gifts of $4,770 from Delta Dental of South Dakota, and $2,500 from First Bank & Trust to support Horizon Health Care’s Smiles for Miles program, along with a $3,500 donation from Patterson Foundation. Thanks to these wonderful partnerships, this brings the total up to $19,962.50 raised this year to provide 75 children with a healthy smile.

Since the creation of the Smiles for Miles program in 2018, the program has raised a total of $86,500 from 261 donors across 16 different states, including 52 communities within South Dakota.

The Horizon Health Foundation invites individuals to create “Smiles for Miles” by sponsoring a child through a gift of $264 or $22 per month. To donate, visit the Horizon Health Foundation webpage, Facebook page (Horizon Health Foundation), or call at 605-772-4553.

About Horizon Health Foundation

 The Horizon Health Foundation was established in 2016 to ensure rural health care access to those in need and provide funding for Horizon Health Care. Horizon Health Foundation, a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation, seeks through responsible activities to encourage and derive sustaining gift support from current and former patients and interested friends, including corporate entities. The Horizon Health Foundation, operating in coordination with Horizon Health Care, is the duly designated fundraising arm for Horizon Health Care.  In the broadest sense, the purpose of the Foundation is to create an awareness of the financial needs of Horizon Health Care, which are not provided by patient charges and to systematically implement plans by which dollar needs can be met.

About Horizon Health Care

For over 40 years, Horizon Health Care has been providing personalized, affordable, high-quality medical, dental and mental health care through a rural, community-based network in South Dakota. Horizon is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that serves the medical, dental and mental health care needs of South Dakotans in rural, medically underserved areas through 110,000 patient visits annually in 32 community health centers in: Aberdeen, Alcester, Bison, Bryant, De Smet, Eagle Butte, Elk Point, Faith, Fort Thompson, Howard, Huron, Isabel, La Plant, Lake Preston, Martin, McIntosh, Mission, Plankinton, Wessington Springs, White River, Woonsocket, and Yankton. For more information, please visit