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Saint Mary’s TOMS Club informs students about blindness worldwide

| Friday, October 9, 2015

On Thursday, Saint Mary’s participated in a global event known as World Sight Day. The Saint Mary’s TOMS Club, under the leadership of club president Emerald Blankenship, hosted the event.

“The whole premise of World Sight Day is to raise awareness of global blindness and to get people involved, to make people aware of what they can do to contribute to the solution,” Blankenship said.

To promote World Sight Day, the TOMS Club set up a table in the Student Center Atrium with information on blindness in different parts of the world and what students can do to help. The club also let students try on goggles that simulated what it’s like to have cataracts, Blankenship said.

“Cataracts [are] the leading cause of blindness globally and [they] can actually be fixed with a 15-minute surgery,” Blankenship said. “So you see, it’s just getting people to be aware. People who have sight don’t realize what it’s like for people who don’t.”

Students shared their pictures from World Sight Day under the hashtag “#givesight” and were also invited to wear sunglasses throughout the day to spread the word about the event, she said.

“It’s a conversation piece,” Blankenship said. “People ask, ‘Why are you wearing your sunglasses at 7 p.m. in the evening?’ You can reply ‘Well you see, there’s this really cool thing called World Sight Day…’

“It’s a way to initiate conversation,” she said.

This is the second academic year for the TOMS Club as a recognized club on campus, and their second World Sight Day. The TOMS Club has a direct connection to the TOMS Company, Blankenship said.

“The TOMS mission is one-for-one,” Blankenship said. “Originally they started out as ‘buy a pair of shoes, give a pair to a child in need in a developing country.’ They then expanded that to eyewear, so when you buy a pair of TOMS sunglasses someone in a developing country will receive perspective glasses, corrective surgery or medical treatment in general for their vision.”

Since then, TOMS has also expanded to selling coffee, which provides clean drinking water and has added a bag line which provides safe birthing kits to women, Blankenship said. However, World Sight Day is not necessarily about promoting the TOMS company, she said.

“World Sight Day is a global movement through the TOMS community,” Blankenship said. “It is a day to raise awareness and make people more socially aware of the things they can do to make a difference.”

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

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