Local eye doctor collects used glasses for donation

Dr. John Jarstad is at it again.

For a decade, Jarstad, an ophthalmologist at Evergreen Eye Center, has been collecting old, retired eyeglasses and hearing aids to donate to people in Africa who can’t afford glasses or hearing aids themselves.

The King County Council passed a resolution on Monday supporting Jarstad’s efforts and allowing Federal Way’s representative, Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, to hang collection fliers throughout the county courthouse and to collect donations at his office.

Jarstad was out of town and could not be reached for this article.

Von Reichbauer became involved with Jarstad’s campaign about two years ago, after hearing the doctor speak at a Kiwanis meeting in Federal Way. He said he was sold on the donation drive when he heard Jarstad describe to his fellow Kiwanians his experiences as a medical volunteer in Africa.

“He said many people weren’t able to fulfill their employment opportunities because they didn’t have glasses or hearing aids,” von Reichbauer said.

Thousands of people pass through the courthouse every day, so the councilman hopes many will see the donation drive signs he’ll hang in the jury rooms and administrative offices throughout the 800,000-square-foot building.

“There’s no way someone couldn’t see how to get rid of their old glasses,” he said. “We anticipate we’re going to get hundreds, if not thousands, of donations.”

Von Reichbauer said many people are hesitant to throw away old glasses like they’re reluctant to throw away old medication, even though they’re useless, he said. This is a way to give new life to old prescriptions.

Jarstad’s staff at Evergreen Eye Center will refurbish the glasses and catalog them by prescription. The glasses then will be delivered to people who need them in Africa. Von Reichbauer estimates tens of thousands of glasses have been donated during Jarstad’s Kiwanis drives already.

“It’s a great cause,” von Reichbauer said. “We live in a plentiful society ... we often have more than we can use.

“Can you imagine suddenly being able to see?” he said. “We’re unable to measure how much that could change someone’s life.”

How you can help

Bring your out-of-date but in-good-condition glasses, prescription sunglasses or hearing aids to the Evergreen Eye Center or drop them off at Councilman Pete von Reichbauer’s office, located on the 12th floor of the King County Courthouse.

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