Students collect eyeglasses for developing countries

Pre-Optometry Club students at UMSL show off a collection box at Marillac Hall and some of the donated eyeglasses and cases. The students are (from left) Tina Ingoldsby, a junior from Dittmer, Mo.; Yunho Kim, a junior from Seoul, South Korea; Xavier Robinson, a junior from Kingston, Jamaica; Cortney Luehrmann, a senior from Los Angeles; and Lucy Ellermann, a freshman from St. Louis.

After last year’s tragic earthquake in Haiti, Pre-Optometry Club students at the University of Missouri–St. Louis wanted to do something. So they sought used eyeglasses for Haitians and people in other developing countries. They collected 223 pairs. Now, they’re shooting for even more.

“There is always a need,” said Cortney Luehrmann, club president.

Barb W. Brown, adviser of the Pre-Optometry Club, said the kindness of the UMSL community last year was partly responsible for the collection returning this year. That generosity, however, was not a surprise, she said.

“This campus is very generous,” Brown said. “Our students reached out through various venues, and we could see the big hearts responding.”

The club has set this year’s collection goal at 250 pairs of eyeglasses. They will gather them through March 5 at two UMSL locations and more than a dozen other places, including area churches, private practices and other universities.

At UMSL, student-decorated collection boxes are set up on the Millennium Student Center Bridge on North Campus and in the Marillac Hall lobby on South Campus.

Once the collection ends, the eyeglasses will be turned over to Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, an international organization dedicated to the provision of eye-care services for those below the poverty line or without access to local eye care.

Luehrmann, who also oversaw last year’s collection as the Pre-Optometry Club president, said she experienced first-hand, as a child, what it was like to not clearly see.

“I don’t wish that frustration on anyone,” said Luehrmann, a Los Angeles native and senior at UMSL. “Helping people is the main reason that I want to be an optometrist. It is even more important to help the people in developing countries who cannot easily receive these health-care benefits.”

And doing so is easy, Brown said.

“If you have old eyeglasses,” she said, “please give so others can see.”

For more information, e-mail Cortney Luehrmann at cmlq6b@umsl.edu or call Barb W. Brown at 314-516-6030.


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