Loose change yields 500 glasses

Published September 1, 2008

Loose change can buy a cup of coffee. Or, pulled together, can buy reading glasses and new beginnings for some people in Central America.

Parishioners at St. John’s in Burlington, Ont., decided to make their “change jar” do wonders, and with the generosity of a local pharmacy, recently sent 500 pairs of reading glasses to El Salvador.

Marion Wilms of St. John’s in Rockwood, Ont. and Rev. Lucy Reid, formerly the ecumenical campus minister for the University of Guelph, also in Ontario, joined the parish at a Sunday service last winter to dedicate the glasses. Ms. Reid explained how many rural people in Central America live on only $1 a day, making the purchase of eyeglasses beyond their reach.

Ms. Wilms, who acted as co-ordinator of the project, arranged for the glasses to reach people in the mountainous part of El Salvador through a nurse, Carol Keith.

In a letter of thanks to the parish, Ms. Keith wrote, “Your donation of reading glasses was magical! People hugged us when they finally could see close work clearly. Some cried tears of joy. The most profound and stirring statement came from a woman who told us, ‘I am reborn now that I can see!” She added that one older man said he could read his Bible again before he died. “Words like that stir the soul and made us so excited and grateful for your gift,” said Ms. Keith.

She said the gift has truly changed the lives of 500 people and their friends and families. “You have enhanced the quality of their lives by giving them the gift of sight. In the song ‘Amazing Grace’ the words ‘I was blind, but now I see’ kept coming to mind as glasses after glasses were fitted.”


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