The eighth graders at MS 80 in the Bronx line up, single file, in front of an eye chart on the stage of their crowded auditorium. Some of them read the letters on the chart aloud with clarity and certainty. Others have trouble reading even the top few lines. Some students are already wearing glasses, while others have spent months and even years squinting to read letters on signs or on the chalkboard in class.
This blog is written by Peggy O’Neill, HKI’s Vice President of Development, Individual Giving.
Seeing world renowned television journalist and HKI champion, Brian Williams back on air last night with the return of Rock Center, reminded me of this year’s Spirit of Helen Keller Gala.
Today is the birthday of Helen Keller, one of the greatest American heroes. I am always amazed by how much she accomplished during her life. She never let her blindness or deafness get in the way of her goals. Chief among those was being a voice for those who were less fortunate than she was, but her vision was not confined to those who were blind or deaf. She wanted to help all who were vulnerable, a legacy that Helen Keller International continues today in her name.
I’ve often wondered how Helen experienced New York City and I was given that opportunity at the immersive interactive show called Dialog in the Dark. All participants are given a white cane and walk in total darkness through several New York settings. Our group’s guide was himself blind. We wandered through “Central Park” and heard more clearly the songs of birds and the ripple of water. In a grocery store, our senses of smell and touch were heightened as we tried to find fruits and vegetables. It was fun and stimulating.
This post originally appeared on TOMS’ Eyewear blog. Helen Keller International is partnering with TOMS to provide prescription eyeglasses to students in need through our ChildSight® program.
Hector, 12, is an eager sixth-grader here in Los Angeles, with a knack for math. When he grows up, he hopes to be a veterinarian or play soccer, his favorite sport, professionally.
Not too long ago, Hector was having trouble seeing the blackboard, and was struggling in classes although he had the skills to succeed. Hector knew he needed glasses, but had broken his last pair and wasn’t able to replace them because of his family’s financial constraints. When he could, Hector would borrow his older sister’s glasses, and although that didn’t correct his vision, he thought a little bit of help was better than nothing.
An entrepreneur’s vision to end Vitamin A Deficiency
When Wes Stoody entered Eastern Michigan University he thought he wanted to be a professor. Five years later he is educating people, but not in the way he originally planned. Along with business partner Jay Parkin and his sister, Maggie Stoody, Wes created Aframes, a socially conscious line of unisex eyewear. The company sells fashionable sunglasses with the dual goal of raising awareness about vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and helping to fund programs that prevent it.
Aframes is partnering with Helen Keller International and will donate 5% of all revenue to help HKI’s vitamin A supplementation programs around the world.
Next week, Aframes is going one step further: the company will donate 50% of its revenue to HKI in celebration of the start of summer. We encourage you to visit their website between May 28th and June 2nd to take advantage of this generous offer!
The famous social activist talks about the importance of vitamin A
Shopping at my local supermarket this morning, imagine my surprise when I spotted Helen Keller! I debated whether I should bother her – because most celebrities like to be left alone – but decided I had to go up and introduce myself. Not only is my organization, Helen Keller International (HKI), named after her, but she is also a personal hero of mine.
I caught up with her in the vegetable aisle and asked her why she was shopping so early on a Sunday morning. She was beyond gracious, encouraging me to call her Helen instead of Ms. Keller. “I am making a sweetpotato pie for dessert tonight,” she explained, “I’ve invited some friends over for dinner to introduce them to the great work that HKI is doing, and wanted to show them how delicious vitamin A can be.”
This post originally appeared on TOMS’ blog. Helen Keller International is partnering with TOMS to provide prescription eyeglasses to students in need through our ChildSight® program.
As TOMS sight giving continues in Nepal, Tibet and Cambodia, we are very happy to share that TOMS Eyewear purchases are now helping restore sight to children in the United States as well!
TOMS is excited to partner with Helen Keller International’s (HKI) ChildSight® program to help provide prescription glasses to children living in impoverished U.S. communities. Since 1994, ChildSight® has provided vision screening and prescription eyeglasses to at-risk students living in urban and rural communities in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and the Navajo Nation. TOMS Eyewear is proud to join them in helping provide new glasses to children.
Hanukkah has begun and Christmas is just days away. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift, look no further! This holiday season, make a donation to Helen Keller International in honor of someone special to help save the sight and lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Whatever amount you give – $1,000 to provide 1,000 children with life-saving vitamin A, $250 to restore the vision of five people through cataract surgery, or $25 to give one American child the glasses she needs – your gift will make a significant improvement in someone’s life. You can’t say the same for fruitcake!
Don’t just take my word for it: Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times columnist, Nick Kristof included HKI in his annual gift guide noting: “HKI gets more bang for the buck than almost any group I can think of.”
Our success is due to the loyal commitment of friends and supporters like you. During this season of giving as we look forward to a new year, please consider making a difference with a donation to Helen Keller International.
On behalf of the HKI team working around the globe – and those whose lives are touched because of your generosity – we wish you happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
A drawing from a child in Cambodia who benefited from our Homestead Food Production program. The ornament at top was drawn by a student in NYC who received free eyeglasses through our ChildSight® program.
For those of you still scrambling for the perfect Halloween costume, I have a great last-minute suggestion: dress up as your favorite micronutrient! Just because your Halloween candy may not have nutritional value, doesn’t mean your costume can’t.
Below are some costume ideas from HKI staff that embody an essential vitamin or mineral:
An interview with HKI's Director of Childsight®
How many people can say that their job brings instant gratification through very simple solutions? Ask Nancy Prail (left in blue shirt), our Director of Childsight®, and she will tell you it happens to her all the time.
Helen Keller International’s ChildSight® program serves at-risk children living in urban and rural poverty by offering free vision screenings and eyeglasses. ChildSight® overcomes the two biggest barriers to childhood vision care: prohibitive cost and limited access. Since 1994, ChildSight® has screened over 1.4 million students in the U.S. and has provided free eyeglasses to over 186,000 of the nation’s most vulnerable children. The result is a significant increase in class participation, a reduction in disruptive behavior and a dramatic improvement in self-confidence. Click here to watch HKI’s video on the Childsight® program.