Two years ago, orthodontists Stan Ferguson and Ed Tipton set out to help the schools where their young patients attended, because many schools were struggling for money.
Since Aug. 1, 2010, their Bluegrass Orthodontics practice has donated $100 for every child and adult patient who started full-braces treatment. The donation would be in the patient's honor to the public or private school of the patient's choice.
By July 12, the practice's Partners in Education program had donated $53,500 to schools in Fayette, Bourbon, Jessamine and surrounding counties, Ferguson said.
"Anytime you give, you certainly get more back," he said.
Tipton said area school principals "are just extremely appreciative of the fact that even though their funding is getting cut and they've got a lot more kids that are in need, that not as much has fallen through the cracks because we've been able to help."
The practice, which has offices in Lexington, Nicholasville and Paris, has given $25,200 to Fayette County public schools, according to practice officials.
"Community partners like Bluegrass Orthodontics who give so generously help our schools provide additional resources for our kids," Fayette Superintendent Tom Shelton said.
Bourbon Middle School Assistant Principal Nadine Hale said the donation to that school directly benefited students.
"We were very excited," Hale said. "We are very appreciative of their support of our school."
The orthodontists asked school administrators to direct the money to teachers for use in classrooms for needed supplies. But Ferguson said officials from various school districts have told him that the money also has been used for field trips for students who could not otherwise afford to participate, and for school food programs for students whose families need help with groceries.
"That really touched us in a deep way," Ferguson said. "What better way to use that money than to help a needy child?"
Barbara Priest of Lexington said her son Thomas is a Bluegrass Orthodontist patient, and a $100 donation was made to Morton Middle School on his behalf.
"It's a generous way to give back to the community through your patients because that way it's personal," Priest said.
She also said the donations were a way of instilling pride in students. It lets them know that "even though you are getting braces, ... you get to help your school out."
Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.