Ocean Pediatric Dental Suggests Giving to Charity in Lieu of Seasonal Baskets

Ocean of Love, POAC Autism Services Are Beneficiaries
Dec 13, 2017

’Tis the season when offices receive baskets of fruit or goodies from customers and colleagues. They are appreciated but can pile up in excess, notes an area dental office that suggests a charitable alternative.

In lieu of sending food baskets to offices in the area, Dr. Elisa Velazquez of Ocean Pediatric Dental Associates has chosen to donate to two local charities in the names of local dentists and doctors. She urges the public to do the same.

The two charities chosen by the dental practice are Ocean of Love and the nonprofit POAC Autism Services.

“These organizations work directly with families in Ocean County and make a huge impact in the community,” Velazquez said. “A check in the amount of $1,000 was given to each organization, and we are asking everyone to consider one of these charities as well.”

The connection with these two organizations is a direct one for Ocean Pediatric Dental, whose offices in Manahawkin and Toms River have worked with a lot of special needs children, including children with cancer.

Ocean of Love is a charitable organization helping children with cancer and their families. Their purpose is to assist children through their illness so they may experience the joys of childhood.

“Most kids that have cancer have such compromised immune systems that a cavity can be a major problem,” Velazquez explained.

“We have to take care of every aspect of their health, so when you’re about to start treatment, you have to be cleared with a dental exam and be medically cleared.”

She continued, “I found out about Ocean of Love from a patient, and I like organizations where I know the money is staying local and taking care of families in my community.”

Seeing a rise in the number of autistic patients over the last 15 years, the dentist said it became a passion of hers to learn as much as she could.

“It’s not formally taught in dental school, so a lot of it was hands-on training and learning from their parents and teachers and putting all those skills together to help patients with autism feel comfortable when they come to the office,” she said.

Velazquez created a program that is free and meets once a month, called DOPAC, Dental Orientation for Parents and Autistic Children. Kids and their parents who attend the meetings can learn dental hygiene skills that they can use every day at home. The exercises also can desensitize the young patients to  future cleanings.

“Instead of coming twice a year for a cleaning, they now can come once a month, so it becomes repetition and common for them,” Velazquez said. "Many parents are afraid that their kids won’t stay in the chair, so they feel it will be a waste of time and money. I wanted to remove that burden,” she said.

Velazquez is the dentist for Children’s Specialized Hospital in Toms River, and that’s how she learned about POAC-Autism Services, the second organization that received a donation this year.

The mission of POAC is to improve the lives of children and adults with autism by providing scientifically based training to parents, teachers and other direct service providers.

“We have chosen these two organizations that make a positive impact in our community and want to donate to them to help bring holiday cheer to the families these organizations help,” Velazquez summarized. “We invite all of you to find an organization that makes a difference and do the same this holiday season.”  —M.S.



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