NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — For the last four years, Linda Hochberg has been collecting eye glasses.
“There’s a lot of different tastes in glasses,” said Hochberg as she laughed and looked at the 172 pairs laid out on her dining room table.
Hochberg first started this mission after learning one simple fact.
“I realized 90 percent of all eye impairments can be improved with glasses and to me that was incredible.”
In fact, the World Health Organization reports that at least 1 billion people around the world have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.
Hochberg started getting help from her neighbors on the popular website Nextdoor, getting donations in the basket on her front porch.
She called Nextdoor an amazing catalyst for the project.
“I caught the attention of the public and all of Nashville. All the different areas,” she said. “People are dropping off glasses and it makes them feel great because it’s giving contributions to everyone.”
Once her mission began, she’d drop the glasses off at a local Costco for the “New Eyes” program.
“It’s really important for children to be able to see, to be able to learn. And it was an easy thing for me to do.”
But the pandemic seemed to temporarily halt that program as Hochberg said “New Eyes” stopped accepting glasses because of COVID-19.
“So I started collecting the glasses that I have and held them until their New Eyes program opened up again,” she said. “And just found out a couple weeks ago that they’re not collecting glasses anymore.”
Since March, the glasses have been piling up, but she’s finally found a new organization, VSP “Eyes of Hope,” a company focused on access to eyecare whether the barrier is income, distance or disaster.
“I like the idea of community involvement. It gives everyone, no matter who they are, an opportunity to give and feel good about it,” said Hochberg. “I just collect them but the people that have donated them are the ones that really deserve that very big thank you.”
Taking at look at the glasses, Hochberg is reminded that each pair has a story of their own and hopefully a new life for a new person. One of the pairs being shipped to “Eyes of Hope” are her father’s.
“It was almost a feeling of keeping him alive in its own right,” she said.
For this care package, she was originally planning to send 172 pairs but then found 13 more, making it 180. Hopefully meaning 180 people will be able to see more clearly. In total, she’s now donated about 443 pairs.
When Hochberg started, she was only planning to collect 100 pairs, “now I’ve set my goal to a thousand. I’d like to collect a thousand pair of glasses and it can continue.”
News4 reached out to VSP Eyes of Hope to ask about Hochberg’s donation.
VSP Spokesperson Ashley Torres Avila said:
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to see well, yet more than 1.3 billion people globally live with vision impairment because they can’t access the eye care or eyewear they need. The donations we receive of gently used glasses or readers help to give someone in need a new outlook on life. Donated eyewear is cleaned and sorted, and then provided to eye doctors to take on global mission trips.
Most of the donations we receive are through VSP network doctors and client organizations who collect gently used glasses on our behalf, so it’s certainly unusual to receive a donation this large from a community member. We sincerely appreciate Ms. Hochberg’s donations and the message it sends about the importance of access to vision care. More information about this program and all of our initiatives can be found at vspeyesofhope.com.”
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