Shielding abused youngsters from additional distress is the first priority of the Luzerne County Child Advocacy Center. An outreach by Benco Dental aims to offer a bit of comfort to those children in their time of need.
“We do what we do every day to help protect children,” said the nonprofit’s Executive Director Shannon Peduto (above left) when she arrived in Pittston, Pennsylvania at the home office of the nationwide dental distributor Tuesday, April 28. Peduto was there to collect dental care packages donated by the Benco Community Boosters.
Last year, 350 children passed through the doors of the Child Advocacy Center in Luzerne County, according to Peduto, who explained that the organization was established to provide a more comfortable environment for children in Luzerne County who have been affected by abuse.
“When abuse is reported for a child, you contact either the police department or child protective services; they then contact us. We’re the liaison between when the report is made and when a prosecution is attempted. We schedule an interview between the child and a forensic examiner,” said Peduto. “We have a donation room — toys that have been donated, blankets, gently used clothing, and teddy bears. Whenever a child comes through, they always leave with something. Just since January 1 until today, we’ve seen about 150 children. So, we’re going to surpass last year’s numbers very quickly,” she added.
That’s where the Benco Dental Community Boosters enter the picture. Established to focus on the company’s charitable efforts through community involvement and volunteerism, the Benco Community Boosters group is coordinated by Talent Specialists Florence Marchesano, Sarah Lucas and Julia Amendola. All Benco Dental associates are invited to participate in volunteer events throughout the year, both at CenterPoint — the company’s home office, and on a regional level.
“We raised money to create the care packages by hosting a Jeans Day at the home office; associates pay $1 to wear jeans to work. The Benco Family Foundation graciously matched the funds raised,” said Marchesano (above right). “When associates’ children visited recently for Bring Your Child to Work Day, we asked them to assist us. We explained the Child Advocacy Center mission and the children were happy to help. They did a great job!” she added.
She referred to national Bring Your Child to Work Day April 23, when the family-owned dental distribution company invited youth in attendance to help prepare 50-plus dental care packages for donation to the Child Advocacy Center. Each year during this event, children are invited to give back through participation in a Community Booster activity, as well as job shadow to gain an understanding of a parent’s workday.
“We thought to approach Benco Dental because they are so family-oriented,” said Peduto, who explained that though the Child Advocacy Center has existed since 2010, it received non-profit status in 2014. For details about Luzerne County Child Advocacy Center or to support its efforts, visit: luzernecountycac.org