Late Saturday afternoon, a small but energetic round of applause erupted at the Charlotte Convention Center as volunteers seated the last patient at a free dental clinic.
The person was the last of 2,700 who poured into the convention center seeking help from the N.C. Dental Society’s clinic for low-income and uninsured patients.
It proved to be the largest free dental clinic ever held by N.C. Missions of Mercy, the nonprofit that ran the event.
Organizers estimated that about 2,000 people who qualified received a total of more than $1 million worth of care, said Mark Schmidtke, ambassador and co-director of community volunteers. The clinic began Friday morning and ended 36 hours later.
Many people had camped out overnight at the convention center, and around 5:30 a.m. Friday organizers realized they were at capacity. They were forced to turn away hundreds.
About five hours later, they determined they could help about 500 more people, Schmidtke said. Then doors were closed again around 11 a.m. Saturday.
The whir of drills continued into the evening Saturday.
It is a tough American economy out there and dentists have stepped up to the plate to help the poor and disadvantaged.