The World Sight Day Challenge, hosted by Optometry Giving Sight (OGS), is an annual fundraiser bringing the global eye care community together to eradicate uncorrected refractive error by giving the gift of sight to families around the world. This year, the theme of the Challenge is “Giving Together, Seeing Forever,” which celebrates the collective power of the optometry community to give the gift of sight to millions of people in need.
To better understand the global impact of the World Sight Day Challenge, Independent Strong got in touch with two practices that have been active in the yearly event for many years – Queensway Optometric Centre in Mississauga, Canada, and Henderson Vision Centre in Winnipeg, Canada.
Utilizing the Resources at Optometry Giving Sight
Both Terri Fracassa, Office Manager at Queensway Optometric Centre, and Lindsey Melo, OD, from Henderson Vision Centre, agreed that their involvement with the World Sight Day Challenge started as a result of a relationship with Optometry Giving Sight.
“We’ve been participating in the World Sight Day Challenge for 15 years, and it all started through Optometry Giving Sight,” Dr. Melo said. “We thought it was a fantastic way to bring eye care to millions of people worldwide who would otherwise not have access to care.”
“Back in 2009, one of the partners at our practice introduced us to Optometry Giving Sight and asked all of us how we’d feel about getting involved with the organization,” Fracassa said. “There’s no better way to give back than something that’s true to our hearts that we practice and do on a daily basis. We all care about eye care, and why not share that passion around the world?”
Starting Small and Growing into Bigger Efforts
Fracassa shared that when Queensway first started participating in the World Sight Day Challenge, the efforts were smaller, and have since grown over time.
“One of our first efforts to participate in the World Sight Day Challenge was what we called ‘Fill the Wall with Glasses,’ and we asked our patients to donate $5 to Optometry Giving Sight,” Fracassa said. “Then, we’d designate one day where the doctors would donate 100% of the profits from their exams for the day, and that was the start of it.”
Both Fracassa and Dr. Melo said that their respective practices try to do more and more for the World Sight Day Challenge each year. There is a culture of giving that has emerged in their offices, and everyone involved takes pride in being able to donate as much as they can — and to top the efforts they made the year prior.
“Every year we try to inspire each other and think of new ways to support Optometry Giving Sight,” Fracassa said. “We always try to build on what we’ve done in the past to make it better for our staff, our patients, our community, and Optometry Giving Sight.” Their efforts have proven fruitful considering they were the number one fundraising practice in Canada last year, as well as six other years in the past.
Henderson was the number two fundraising practice in Canada last year, and number one within Eye Recommend’s network. “Our office was so excited to learn that we won the top prize for most donations in 2022 among Eye Recommend offices in Canada,” Dr. Melo said. “We truly have the best staff and the best patients. This year, we plan to be number one again!”
Getting Patients and Staff Involved
Involvement from staff and patients is one of the keys to success when participating in the World Sight Day Challenge. Dr. Melo and Fracassa agree that their efforts wouldn’t be possible without planning, a solid team, and a great deal of generosity.
“We try to highlight the World Sight Day Challenge all year long, and we find that our staff and our patients take personal pride in donating to this amazing cause,” said Dr. Melo. “My favorite part is getting everyone involved and knowing the impact that our office has had on those in need.”
“The World Sight Day Challenge isn’t a one-day process — it’s an ongoing process,” Fracassa said. “We also have the help of volunteers and patients during our big event, and that is a huge help to us.”
Year-Round Donation Efforts
Fracassa shared that their office participates in the World Sight Day Challenge in various ways. All year long, the practice has donation boxes where patients, staff, and even sales reps can donate eyeglasses and sunglasses that go to OGS. The office also has OGS trinkets — bracelets, pens, pencils, etc. — that patients can grab when they leave a donation. They used to host a book drive where patients would bring in a book and be able to take one of the other donated books after leaving $2. However, on top of all of that, Fracassa explained that the big event for the World Sight Day Challenge is the annual bake sale.
“Our bake sale looks like you’re walking right into a bakery,” she said. “We got labels from OGS and packaged all of the baked goods, and we invite everyone in the community, all of our patients, all of the manufacturers we work with, and all of the other people in our building to come in and support the cause.”
Fracassa said the bake sale also boasts a raffle that includes prizes such as brand new pieces of jewelry, a signed Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, a six-month supply of contact lenses, and more.
At Henderson Vision Centre, the World Sight Day Challenge is equally as extensive. Dr. Melo shared that for starters, all doctors donate their exam billings to OGS on World Sight Day – which is on October 12 this year. In addition, each year the practice hosts a “garage sale” in the waiting room, where practitioners and staff members bring in and sell lightly used goods, and all of the proceeds go to OGS.
As an incentive to donate more, the office allows staff to dress casually twice per week during the month of October – if they donate $20 to OGS and wear their OGS T–shirt.
Dr. Melo and her office also have ways for patients to get involved in the World Sight Day Challenge.
“Year-round, when patients present for eyeglasses adjustments, we ask that they make a donation of $25 for the adjustment, and we donate these funds annually to OGS,” she said. “Additionally, for every eyeglass sale we make in the month of October, we offer patients the chance to make a minimum $20 donation for a ballot to enter a draw to ‘win back your purchase.’ At the end of October, we draw a name, and this person wins back the money they spent on their glasses. We’ve often had patients re-donate this money back to OGS, which speaks to how amazing our patients are.
“We also do ‘Guess How Many Candies Are in the Jar,’ where patients donate $1 per guess, and the closest guess wins the jar of candy, while the proceeds go to OGS.”
Making a Difference
For both Dr. Melo and Fracassa, the best part of participating in the World Sight Day Challenge every year is that they’re able to give back to communities in need around the world.
“This is a great opportunity for team building and to feel good about doing something for others,” Dr. Melo said. “A great first step would be to order matching T-shirts for the World Sight Day Challenge and wear them with pride. A little bit of effort can go a long way!”
“Just start small and build something from it,” Fracassa said. “Our office loves being number one, so that’s an easy way for us to get our staff engaged. We also love challenging other offices with donations and raffles to help inspire us to continue these efforts. Not only are you helping your community, but you’re making a difference around the world.”