This summer, a handful of dedicated volunteers are determined to continue a tradition of caring that began more than 20 years ago.

The Children's Assistance and Resource Event - or C.A.R.E. Fair - began providing "one-stop shopping" for health and human services to low-income families in 1989.

Past services ranged from free immunizations, health screenings and physicals to school supplies and safety items such as bicycle helmets and car seats.

The event was designed to provide convenient access in a central location to private, nonprofit and government agencies and services in order to prepare children for the start of school.

Last year, about 10,000 children from throughout the city received assistance over a two-day period.

This year's one-day event, on July 24 at Sunnyside High School, will be dramatically smaller, primarily due to a lack of funding by participating groups, said Sunnyside Prevention Program Assistant Bernadette Martin.

Martin, who has co-chaired the event for several years, said there are no funds to set up temporary rooms for physical examinations and other necessary equipment.

"We have to do what we can with what we have. When things like this happen, we make the best of it and move forward and hope that next year things can be different.

"We don't want to do away with the C.A.R.E. Fair altogether, and there is a chance that next year we will be able to offer more services again," Martin said.

General Dentistry 4 Kids has stepped up to offer free dental examinations in its mobile clinic and to provide event organization.

The effort has been spearheaded by Community Outreach Program Coordinator Yadira Solis, who is all about education about proper oral hygiene, including proper brushing, flossing and diet.

"They have done studies on decay itself and how it affects kids in school, and it is one of the most untreated diseases. One report by the state of Arizona found that one-third of kids have untreated dental issues," she said.

Dr. Amy Hauschildt, a dentist with General Dentistry 4 Kids, said: "Lots of people in our community don't have access to dental care and health care, and every little bit we can do to help by providing access in our free time helps someone out. It is a great joy and privilege and opportunity."

Hauschildt, who will perform free dental exams at the fair, hopes that providing underserved families and children with information about their oral health will make them more proactive about dental care. Ultimately, her goal is to prevent long-term problems.

"If we can help them have good experiences as children, it can help them not to be fearful of dentists as adults," she said.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at