Helping children see

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Do you have your first pair of childhood glasses? Or perhaps the first few pairs your own children wore stuffed in a drawer somewhere? If so, one St. Scholastica junior has a use for them.

Logan Towne, a premed student at the College of St. Scholastica, recently formed the nonprofit Mission 4 Sight to collect donations of children's glasses after he returned from a mission trip to Mexico with Rotary International and the Volunteer Optometrists Serving Humanity.

"While we were in the Guerrero clinic, my job was to try to find glasses that would fit individuals and fill their scripts," Towne said.

Towne's group was working in the clinic for four days. By the end of the first day, the clinic had run out of children's glasses.

"We just didn't have enough donations. I had to start giving kids adult-sized glasses," Towne said. "It was obvious they didn't fit them. Some people even joked that they'd have to use shoe strings to tie them to their heads to keep them on."

Children's glasses are specially made to be more durable and fit kid-size heads. Towne said it was difficult to try to find glasses that fit children. One mother asked Towne if more donations would be coming in.

"I knew there wouldn't be more and it made me feel kind of helpless. There were all these kids and there was nothing we could really do for them," Towne said. "At that point, I made it my mission to help these kids."

Towne came back and teamed up with three other Scholastica classmates to create Mission 4 Sight to collect glasses for the Guerrero clinic. He plans to return this summer.

Towne was able to attend an optical fair in Las Vegas earlier in the year to garner donations from optical organizations and businesses.

"I've got about 400 donations of lens and frames from Vegas, but I also found a few more groups I'd like to donate glasses to," Towne said.

Towne's goal is to donate at least 200 complete sets of glasses to a Lion's organization in Los Angeles, 200 to a mission in Tanzania and bring 200 glasses to the clinic in Guerrero when he returns in June.

"Every organization we've talked to about our mission have said this is great because most people don't know that there is this huge need," Towne said. "So many people have their childhood glasses and keep them as a memory or cute trinket and forget about them. But they could make a world of difference in a child's life across the globe."

Towne's organization does not collect monetary donations, only glasses. Individuals wishing to donate can bring children's glasses to Vision Pro Optical stores in Duluth or contact the organization online at mission4sight.org.

"I'd love to see people take this on as a service project. Or if a church or club would hold a glasses drive, it would really help us out," Towne said. "I can't wait to go back with all these glasses for kids."