Donated eyeglasses delight with the gift of sight

Eugene | Vancouver | July 26, 2018
young boy wowed by new eyeglasses
PazSalud volunteer recounts joyous first moments

Love at first sight.

That’s what Michelle Toney, lead certified optician at The Optical Shop at PeaceHealth University District in Eugene, Oregon, gets to experience again and again during her volunteer work for the PazSalud Mission, matching clients with their first pair of eyeglasses.

El Salvadoran man trying on donated eyeglassesIt was on her very first PazSalud trip that she remembers fitting an older man with some glasses. He was a cowboy who had worked in the El Salvadorian fields his entire life. When he put on the eyeglasses and could see clearly for the first time in many years, it was like love at first sight – a smile appeared, and he started laughing with joy and dancing.  At that moment, Michelle was hooked on volunteering for the PazSalud eye missions. 

Since then, Michelle has gone on three other mission trips with PazSalud. Her heart thrills to experience her clients’ joy as their faces light up in amazement at what’s it like to see clearly.young El Salvadoran boy tries glasses no. 1

One of her most joyous experiences was on her last trip. She wasn’t sure if she could scavenge a pair of glasses out of the hundreds of donated pairs that would enable her patient, a young boy with Down’s syndrome to see beyond his norm—about an inch in front of his nose.

young El Salvadoran boy tries glassesEven if she found a pair of glasses for him, she still wasn’t sure what the lad would do when he could see for the first time.

The wow factor

Hesitantly, Michelle fit the glasses on his small, hopeful face. As his line of sight came into view, the result was pure joy. He started touching others’ faces and giving hugs. Then he saw mom, and went over to kiss her. Michelle held up a mirror so the boy could see his own face with his new glasses and was rewarded with an enthusiastic, “Wow!”

That wow factor, and many more, was made possible by the Lions Eyeglass Recycle Center, which offers the glasses to the PazSalud Mission free of charge. During just one trip, the PazSalud eye clinic uses approximately 2,500 pairs of glasses. Wow, indeed!

Donate eyeglasses

Not everyone can travel with PazSalud as a volunteer, but nearly everyone can help bring the gift of sight to someone in El Salvador through an eyeglass donation.

You can donate through your local Lion’s Club at a convenient drop off location or mail to NWLERC, 9013 Mullen Rd SE, Olympia, WA 98513.

Learn more about PazSalud – PeaceHealth’s Mission to the underserved in El Salvador at pazsalud.org.