Freddie, a local veteran, is the only one not smiling because missing teeth embarrassed him.
Freddie says he loves apples and is looking forward to getting new teeth so he can bite into one.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Freddie is a veteran who lives on Myrtle Street and has every reason to smile proudly.
He can sing. His musical group even has a new CD out.
He has served our country.
But he won't smile in a picture. He says he's too "embarrassed."
Maybe you're like Freddie. He doesn't remember ever going to a dentist growing up because his family couldn't afford it. As an adult, he can't afford a dentist either.
He remembers eating a local restaurant and he looked down at the chicken on his plate and saw his tooth had fallen out into the chicken.
He had other rotten teeth, as well.
The idea of paying a dentist several thousand dollars to fix his teeth was in the impossibility category.
But then his landlord told him about Healing Hands, the dental clinic on Timuquana.
He's getting new teeth and the bill, just $200, rather than the $5,000 to $6,000 dentists would have charged.
Freddie said the clinic is "a blessing from God."
The problem is, though, that the Healing Hands nonprofit clinic is tiny. There's a waiting list now -- a long one. More than 500 people are waiting for dental help. And those patients who get in sometimes have to wait eight or nine months to be seen.
The good news is, we can fix the problem.
Our Apple Project is working to raise funds to build a new clinic which would serve 6,000 patients a year right away when it opens in the fall of 2014.
The Weaver Foundation, still helping our community after the Jaguar years, will match donations up to $100,000.
So have you appled? Can you throw a little fundraiser at work? At school? At church?
Maybe you can have a bake sale or a dress-down day. Whatever you can create could help.
Jeannie Blaylock would love to feature your fundraiser on TV to inspire others. Her email is email@example.com
First Coast News