In 2014 'Project 20/20' of Memphis Conference supplied eyeglasses & sunglasses to mission teams that served more than 5,000 people in 13 countries
United Methodist churches in the Memphis Conference (West Tennessee and Western Kentucky) support Project 20/20 with gifts of glasses and money. Many churches provide donation boxes at their facilities or at community locations. Donation boxes also are located at district offices and the conference office in Jackson, Tenn.
By Grace Bonner, Coordinator, Project 20/20
Project 20/20 is a mission of the Memphis Conference that has been growing and growing in the last 20 years. It is housed at Emmanuel UMC in Memphis, Tenn., but is connected to the Memphis Conference, the United Methodist Church and the rest of the world through mission teams that distribute eyeglass and sunglasses to people in need.
Project 20/20 had a great year in 2014. A group of about 15 volunteers processed at least a ton of donated glasses, finding ones that could be useful to people in need of vision care around the world.
Volunteers sorted, cleaned, checked and bagged 6,400 pairs of prescription glasses and 3,000 pairs of sunglasses. They filled orders from 21 mission teams who took the eyeglasses and sunglasses to 13 countries, reaching over 5000 people.
Donors from all over the country sent in from one to several hundred pairs of glasses and sunglasses. United Methodist churches in the Memphis Conference (West Tennessee and Western Kentucky) provided faithful support, mailing directly or sending in glasses via a kind of “pony express” that moves from church to district office to Memphis Conference office to Project 20/20's home at Emmanuel UMC.
The work of Project 20/20 is done on a shoestring. The only expenses are supplies for processing and packaging and shipping costs for getting the glasses to mission teams. Money comes from many sources. Two churches in Georgia sent large donations in 2014. Glasses that can’t be used for the missions are recycled and Project 20/20 is paid for that.
So every pair of donated glasses is used in one way or another.
2015 is already starting out to be a great year. Five orders of glasses (total of 4,387 pairs) are with mission teams traveling to Haiti, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Belize and Mexico. There is a large order leaving soon for the local student chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists to take to Nicaragua in May. These teams will return the prescription glasses they don’t use and they will be available to go out to other mission teams.
If you want to help, you may contact Project 20/20 at firstname.lastname@example.org. One current need is for children’s sunglasses. Perhaps your Sunday School classes or your Vacation Bible School could start a mission project to collect them for Project 20/20 to send around the world to help other children protect their eyes.