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Students give the gift of sight

Hart collects eyeglasses for the visually impaired

Posted: April 21, 2009 10:25 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hart High School students in honors anatomy and physiology show off their drop-off box for eyeglasses. The students were able to gather and donate nearly 2,000 eyeglasses this year.

Students at Hart High School participated in the school's annual eye glasses drive to give new eyes to people with visual impairments from all over the world.

"It's so much fun to help others and expect nothing else in return," junior Leah Throckmorton, 16, said "The best part is knowing that we are changing lives, one pair of glasses at a time."

The school's honors anatomy and physiology students worked in collaboration with Lions Club International, the world's largest service-club organization, which has served over 48 million people in need of eyeglasses in the past nine years through the club's Recycle for Sight program.

Students collected close to 2,000 prescription eyeglasses from February through early April, with the intent to send the donated spectacles to people who need them around the globe, particularly third world countries.

The school's honors anatomy and physiology teacher, Paula Bae, has been organizing the eyeglasses drive at Hart for the past 10 years and is proud of the record-breaking numbers of glasses gathered this year.

"These students really amazed me this year," Bae said. "Often times, a decent pair of glasses can mean the difference between poverty and gainful employment. These students are giving people hope."

"It's cool to be involved in something this meaningful," junior Samson Hydar, 17, said. "It helps others and you get to do it with your friends. That makes it even better."

Students in the honors lab classes were instructed by Bae to pick a partner and make up a project that would encourage people to donate glasses to the drive.

Each group was able to explore their own creativity in coming up with their individualized projects.

"My partner and I decided to go to local optometrists offices," 17-year-old junior Hannah Russell said. "We put a box up front with fliers about the drive and what we were hoping to accomplish. We got 96 pairs of glasses - it was great!"

Other students walked door-to-door, presenting posters filled with information about 50 percent of the world population's need for better sight.

"People were looking through their kitchen cabinets and drawers so they could help out," said Hydar, who put in a lot of legwork with his partner as they went around different local neighborhoods. "It was really awesome to see how much people wanted to help. The glasses will help so many and it's so easy to do."

Throckmorton did her own legwork around the campus, visiting different classrooms with her partner to raise awareness about the drive in their own creative way.

A large, glittered poster of Tinkerbell accompanied the girls to each room, and read "Help someone see the magic in life."

Throckmorton's group expressed the need for old, new, used and even damaged eyeglasses and encouraged people to value the importance of good eyesight.

"I have worn glasses almost all of my life," Throckmorton said, whose need for glasses began in pre-school. "I don't have to wear them anymore, but will always remember how grateful I was to be able to see clearly. I appreciate my eye sight more then anything."

Throckmorton isn't the only student in the honors class who understands how eyeglasses can change lives.

"I wore my first pair of glasses in sixth grade and was astonished by what I never saw before I had them." Russell said. "If I felt that way, I can only imagine what a gift we are giving people who have never seen clearly before in their lives."

Bae told her students the story of a woman who received a pair of prescription glasses from Lions Club and cried with joy as she ran home to see her children's faces for the first time.

"It's stories like this one that make a lasting impression," said Russell. "It inspires me to do more for others. If an old pair of glasses can change a life, imagine what else we can do."

Hart is the only school in the William S. Hart Union High School District that conducts the drive annually.

Even though this year's drive is officially over, Bae and her students will keep a drop-off box in the school's main office until the first week of May.

"Our hope is that other members of the community find that old pair of glasses and decide to give them a new home, by giving to others who will gain a whole new world."


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