Hours before the doors for the 6th Annual Connecticut Mission of Mercy in Bridgeport opened at 6 a.m., hundreds of people waited in line at the Webster Bank Arena for free dental care, despite the rain.
The crowd was so large that the doors will close for the day at 1:15 p.m., because they are at capacity.
The free dental clinic is being held on Friday and Saturday. When patients arrive, they register, then head to the triage, where a doctor assesses their needs before they go to the clinic itself.
More than 110 dental chairs are available and more than 1,500 people are donating their time to provide a full range of dental services, including general health screenings, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, extractions, oral surgery and prosthetics.
Foundations, organizations, businesses and individuals have donated more than $216,070 to run the clinic.
"This remarkably generous outpouring from the community will enable us to service more than 2,000 people in need of dental care this June in Bridgeport, and we cannot thank our donors enough for helping to make CTMOM possible again this year," Dr. Bruce Tandy, co-chair of the CTMOM, said in a statement.
In addition to the $216,070 raised so far, the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services has provided a $178,000 grant to purchase equipment.
The two-day clinic operates on a first-come, first-served basis.