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Resource center gives sight to needy

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

An initiative that enables millions of needy people to dramatically improve their eyesight is being carried out in a small corner office in a McDonough distribution center. It is Luxottica's OneSight Resource Center, which opened this month.

"We've been working for a number of years to get the resource center here," said Martha Johnson, captain of OneSight, a charitable component of the Mason, Ohio-based non-profit organization, Luxottica Group Foundation.

Johnson heads up the Southeast region's only OneSight Resource Center, and it operates out of the Luxottica Distribution Center in McDonough. Luxottica is one of the world's leading makers of eyewear. The resource center, which opened this fall, provides a place for volunteers to refurbish used prescription eyeglasses to match with the prescriptions of needy people in developing nations.

OneSight, itself, is a charitable, vision-care and global-outreach program established in 1988, to provide those needy people with free vision care and eyewear, according to Johnson. She said the program offers more than a dozen clinics, in different countries, a way of providing vision care services and eyewear on site.

Johnson is planning to volunteer in a two-week, OneSight Global Clinic in Mtubatuba, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, next month, where she will help provide prescription eyeglasses to those who need them.

"OneSight is a passion of mine," she said. "I've been a glasses wearer since I was a child in third-grade, and I can't imagine going through life without glasses. I wouldn't be able to read a book, hold down a job, or drive ..."

Johnson's other role at the Luxottica Distribution Center is as administrative assistant to Luxottica's Associate Vice President of Distribution Pedro Carreras. Carreras, too, has participated in OneSight since 2003.

"The cause is phenomenal," said Carreras. "We're helping the whole world to see."

The associate vice president said he recently volunteered in a OneSight Global Clinic in Coban, Guatemala, where 32 Luxottica employees and OneSight volunteers assisted 22,023 people fulfill their vision needs.

"It's overwhelming," Carreras said. "The amount of thanks, blessings, and hugs they shared was incredible.

"I remember there was a 7-year-old girl," he continued. "When I put the glasses on her face, she smiled, and she turned to her mother and said 'Mother, I can see your face.'"

Carreras and Johnson are hoping to get as many people in the community involved in the charity, either through donations, or through volunteering locally and abroad.

Those interested in training to become a OneSight volunteer, or donating eyeglasses to OneSight, should contact Martha Johnson by e-mail, at mjohnson@luxotticaretail.com, or call (770) 305-7332.

Carreras added that area residents can also help support OneSight by taking part in its Third Annual Eye Run, to be held April 16, 2011, in McDonough. More than 300 individuals participated in the 10K and 5K charity event last spring. To learn more, visit the OneSight web site at www.OneSight.org.