Sunderland shirts flood in for Africa appeal

Strip Off For Smiles, Michael Oliver with members of his staff and some of the donated Sunderland shirts, left to right; Beverley Mason, Sophie Hourigan, Claire Cavanagh, Gillian Gaffney and Sarah Lemon.
Strip Off For Smiles, Michael Oliver with members of his staff and some of the donated Sunderland shirts, left to right; Beverley Mason, Sophie Hourigan, Claire Cavanagh, Gillian Gaffney and Sarah Lemon.
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PUT your shirts on them.

Generous Wearsiders have been sending in old SAFC strips by the shed load for the city’s Strip off for Smiles campaign.

The Echo has joined forces with SAFC and Olivers Dental Studio, to collect as many shirts as possible for children in Morocco.

The total donated has topped 100, but it is hoped that will be doubled by the time businessman Michael Oliver will fly out with them

The 52-year-old, of Chester-le-Street, is one of the founding members of Dental Mavericks, who travel to Morocco every year to help children with no access to dental care.

Michael said he has been overwhelmed by the amount of support shown by Black Cats fans who have swamped Oliver’s Dental Studio, in East Herrington and the Echo’s Pennywell office with donations of shirts, as well as boots and tracksuits.

“It’s gone very well so far,” he said. “And we want to say thank you for all the support.

“I think we have had over 100 shirts and I’m not going to Morocco until September 28, so it would be really great to go away with over 200.”

The red and white strips will be flown to the small fishing village of El Jebah, where Michael and the team will perform essential dentistry for free.

As well as treating the villagers to dental care, he will hand out the strips to the villagers and children, who know all about the Premier League.

Michael said: “What I noticed was if you take anything, just a little gesture, the children are so grateful.

“The SAFC strips are a recognisable brand, even out in this remote village, and I think it stimulates some interest in what we are doing out there.”

The team spend an intensive few days doing non-stop dentistry to help children suffering with abscesses, rotting teeth and gum infections.

Michael: “The fact that Western medical professionals are helping their children, it attracts a bit of excitement around the village.

“If anybody does have any strips that they have donated, if they could just see the reaction on the kids faces, it gives them a bit of pleasure in the difficult lifestyle the children have.

“It means a lot to the children, they don’t have a lot.”

To donate or find out more, visit www.dentalmavericks.org or www.oliverdental.com

You can bring your old Sunderland shirts to reception in Echo House, Pennywell.

Twitter: @sunechohannah