Gracie's Glasses Spreads A Vision,
Donates Hundreds of Eyeglasses Around the World
Article from "It's Relevant"
By Samantha Mckelvie
June 23, 2014 At 06:46 PM
It started with a 5th grade class project.
“We had a "million dollars" to spend helping a village called Sauri, Kenya lift itself out of poverty.”
So Grace O’Halloran decided to use her hypothetical money on something she’s needed since she was three years old; eyeglasses.
“I though about it, kind of first, that if I didn’t have glasses for all these years, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to do all the things that I have done,” says Grace. “And it turned out that there definitely was a need for them, for the children and the adults.”
Then, Grace later decided to take it one step further, by actually putting her idea into action. At just 12-years-old, the young entrepreneur founded Gracie’s Glasses in 2010 and began collecting eyeglasses to send to countries in need.
“I’ve been able to send them to Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda, India, and Nepal.”
Four years later and Grace has managed to send 600 pairs of glasses around the world. And now, with the help of organizations like the Stamford Lions Club, Gracie’s project is growing quickly. The club, which has been collecting glasses for nearly 50 years, recently donated 3,000 pairs to Grace’s cause.
“Usually we send them out to get either recycled or melted down, and we take the money and use the money for charitable donations, but once we got connected with Gracie, we just try to turn them over to Gracie,” says Harold Topper, President of the Stamford Lions Club. “We’re just amazed at how much she believes in it and carries through on it, it’s a great thing.”
And Grace says her passion for the cause is fueled by the people she helps.
“I love making the connections with people from all different cultures and walks of life,” she says.
Grace says she plans to continue with the project, making it even bigger and better a long the way.
“I think the hardest part is matching the person to the glasses with their prescriptions, so I’d like to work on making that easier on the other end of it once the glasses get there,” says Grace.
To find out more about Grace’s cause, visit graciesglasses.org.
Grace O'Halloran Helps Kenyan Kids See Their Possibilities:
The 13-year-old founder of "Gracie's Glasses" is this week's Whiz Kid.
Article from New Canaan Patch
By Eugene Diserio
March 30th, 2011
Thirteen-year-old Grace O’Halloran has been wearing glasses since she was three years old.
An unusual math project during fifth grade at inspired "Gracie's Glasses" — a collection of used eyeglasses for an impoverished village in Kenya.
NCCS teacher Kristen Ball, spent the summer of 2005 living in the African village of Sauri, where she saw first-hand the plight of the local children.
When she returned, Ball challenged her Country School class to come up with a solution to relieve some of the Kenyan students' needs.
“Imagine you have been awarded $1,000,000 to bring a village out of extreme poverty," she told her students. "How would you spend the money?"
Her class could not go over budget and had to prove the villagers would be healthy and on their way to being educated and self-sufficient, once their plan was implemented.
Inspired by this real-life situation, the students researched the village's living conditions, developed a budget plan, itemized accounting sheets, and a PowerPoint presentation to share with their classmates.
O'Halloran's project focused on eye hygiene. "I put a lot of ‘money’ towards eye care,” she said, when she learned that the villagers in Sauri barely have hygienic bandages, let alone eyeglasses.
“After the project, I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could use real money and really help these people," she said.
She started "Gracie's Glasses" by collecting used eyeglasses. The professionals at in New Canaan determined the prescriptions.
O'Halloran is working with the Millennium Promise organization to distribute more than 200 pairs of donated eyeglasses to the Kenyan people who need them.
"Clear vision could help change a life!” she said.
Eyeglasses are collected on an ongoing basis and can be dropped off in "Gracie's Glasses" boxes in the main building at New Canaan Country School and the front vestibule of in New Canaan.
“I know that if I never had glasses, I wouldn’t have been able to do nearly as many things as I have," O'Halloran said. "I can’t imagine having blurred vision. It would be extremely hard to read, write, drive, and do many more necessary actions."
She described how she envisioned people in poverty, trying to go through daily tasks, barely being able to see the ground in front of them.
"Children in the village I learned about have to carry a pail of water and large sack of grain and beans to school for lunch. It’s not as if they just put it in the trunk of the car. they walk several miles each day to school," she said.
"Without clear vision, they could stumble and spill all of their food and water," she added. "Once at school, they will not benefit from the lessons if they can’t see well.”
Imagining and feeling what's it's like to see through another's eyes and walk in another's shoes on the other side of the world — is the key to O'Halloran's awesomeness.
She says she tries to live by this motto written by Mark Twain:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover."