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Giving the Gift of Sight: Bassett senior helps people in need

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MTV 0719 MacKenzie Lewis

Bassett High School senior MacKenzie Lewis is an intern at The Eye Site in Collinsville. She is coordinating a project to fit 100 people in need with custom glasses.

MARTINSVILLE – MacKenzie Lewis saw a clear problem: Some people can’t afford the glasses they need.

An intern at The Eye Site, the Bassett High School senior approached Dr. Julie Brown and Dr. Shannon Zollinger with an idea. She could collect old pairs of glasses as well as canned foods to help people in need.

They agreed, and MacKenzie started her project. She aims to collect at least 100 pairs of used glasses. Professionals would give eye exams and remake each pair specifically for someone who needs it.

MacKenzie created colorful boxes to accept donations of used eyeglasses. The boxes will be at The Eye Site building, Martinsville Family Medical (Dr. Patrick Favero) and Dr. Jones Orthodontics through Aug. 31.

She will be at each of those locations on July 27 giving out goodie bags to people who bring donations, she said.

Pastor Mike Harrison of The Community Fellowship has since joined the project.

“We are thrilled to have him as a partner,” said The Eye Site’s manager, Frank Manuguerra. “He is very active in the community and has a great outreach program.”

“Those who would like to participate should either come in or call The Community Fellowship between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday to fill out an application and be placed on a list of those who want to participate,” Harrison said. “The Community Fellowship is located in the Collinsville Shopping and can be reached at 647-8231.  It is an honor to help those who have a need and to share hope.”

The Eye Site staff will conduct free eye exams from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. Sept. 19 at The Eye Site for those who qualify, Mauguerra said. The Eye Site staff will put free custom single vision or reading lenses inside the donated frames. If needed, another eye exam session will be scheduled to meet need, he added.

“After that, they will be able to try on the frames we have collected and pick out one pair that they like the best and fits. All of the frames will be sterilized beforehand,” he said.

“I feel that eyesight is an essential in everyone’s life,” Mackenzie said.  “I wanted to give back to the community.”

She is the daughter of Cherie and Barry Whitlow.

At the start of her junior year, MacKenzie approached Brown about starting an internship because she wants to be an optometrist. She shadows both Brown and Zollinger after school three days a week through their daily routines at The Eye Sight. She also performs some tasks, such as putting away contact lenses, entering data and returning phone calls to patients, she said.

Lewis said she’s interested in optometry because “It helps others have a better life, a better world.”

“MacKenzie has been shadowing The Eye Site for some months now and she is a great addition to our staff,” Manuguerra said. “We are really excited to partner with her on this.”

Erica Gilley provided information for this story 

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