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Spotlight Non-profit: Helping those in need with the gift of clear vision

LatinaLista — Good vision is something that people who have it take for granted, and those who don’t have it have learned the importance of a good pair of eyeglasses.


The only problem is unless a family has vision included in their health coverage or lives in a state where Medicaid still covers the cost of prescription eyeglasses, most people let their vision deteriorate because of the cost of eyeglasses. It’s a dangerous thing to do.

It’s a known fact that children with poor vision do poorly in school and adults who can’t see clearly enough while working or driving put themselves and others at risk for injury. But for people who just can’t afford the cost of eyeglasses and eye exams, it’s a risk they live with because they think have no choice. They just haven’t heard of New Eyes for the Needy.

New Eyes for the Needy has been around a long time — since 1932. The “focus” of the program is to “improve the vision of poor children and adults by purchasing new eyeglasses in the United States, and recycling donated glasses for distribution in developing nations worldwide.”

Since its founding, the organization has given away more than 7 million pairs of eyeglasses to people around the world who needed them. Potential recipients in the U.S. must qualify for New Eyes based on their financial situation and have to go through a social service agency. Those that do qualify receive a voucher for the glasses.

New Eyes relies on donations of either used eyeglasses that are refurbished by New Eyes for distribution overseas, cash donations where $60 buys one pair of eyeglasses for people in the United States, or volunteer time to set up drives in local communities to collect cash, eyeglasses or other items that can be used to help pay or furnish the eyeglasses.

The need is great.

In 2009-2010, New Eyes was unable to respond to 24 percent of the requests for assistance. It was an increase of 5 percent over 2008-09.

With expectations that fundraising will remain flat this year, New Eyes is worried that even more children and adults won’t be able to improve their vision through a good pair of eyeglasses.

However, New Eyes still has a vision of helping as many children and adults who need glasses get them — so they can create their own visions for successful lives.

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