The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Giving gifts of sight

Von+Millers+non-profit+organization+Vons+Vision%2C+dedicated+to+providing+low-income+students+with+free+glasses+will+return+to+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+with+registration+opening+in+October.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Provided

Von Miller’s non-profit organization “Von’s Vision,” dedicated to providing low-income students with free glasses will return to Texas A&M with registration opening in October. 

Non-profit charity Von’s Vision returned to Texas A&M’s Student Health Services, or SHS, to offer students free eye exams and fashionable eyewear.
Launched in 2013 by former A&M linebacker Von Miller, Class of 2011, the program’s slogan is “Giving Kids the Gift of Sight.” Miller’s team will return on Oct. 19 and Nov. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the A.P. Beutel Health Center, according to the SHS website.
Designed to assist low-income students and families, individuals must be undergraduate students eligible for financial aid and must not have vision insurance to qualify for the program.
“My primary goal is to get glasses on kids’ faces,” Miller said in a 2015 statement video. “This is truly a cause dear to my heart. I’d wanted glasses all my life.”
Miller expanded the program in 2018 to accommodate college students and offer glasses frames — not just exams — thanks to the donations of several former students, SHS director Dr. Martha Dannenbaum said.
“Von’s Locker is a place where people who already have a prescription [and] just need the glasses come and can pick out a pair of frames,” Dannenbaum said. “We send them off and get their glasses and then they come by and pick them up.”
Not having eyeglasses, or even an up-to-date prescription, can severely impact someone’s ability to learn, Dannenbaum said, especially with the proliferation of eye-straining computers and screens.
“Some people feel like it’s a bit of a luxury,” Dannenbaum said. “Knowing the cost of an [eye] exam [and] getting good quality glasses is really sometimes out of reach for people who are just trying to pay rent and feed themselves.”
The “big vision” for the vision center’s partnership is looking toward a permanent optometry clinic and shop within the university health service, which some other universities already offer, Dannebaum said. This clinic could also be available for students who don’t meet the current criteria for the program.
“It is a very important aspect of healthcare, as much as dental is and all the other things critical for the overall health of the individual,” Dannenbaum said.
One of the challenges Miller’s foundation has faced is consistently having optometrists available to assist with exams, Dannenbaum said. Currently, SHS utilizes members of the community who volunteer their time as a way to give back to those in need.
“Sometimes we’ve had to cancel events because they just didn’t have an optometrist available,” Dannenbaum said. “We’ve talked about the possibility of hiring an optometrist where their job is to do this program. If the dollars are there from the fundraising, then perhaps we’ll be able to ensure that we have an optometrist available so we’re not depending on the volunteer system.”
Kinesiology sophomore Riley Knight volunteered at the Sept. 21 event as part of Delta Gamma’s “Service for Sight” initiative, another nationwide philanthropic initiative providing access and advocacy for the visually impaired since 1936, according to the sorority’s website.
“I never really thought of vision as a gift until I [joined] Delta Gamma,” Knight said. “Then, being [at A&M], I’ve realized that there are so many students around me that might not be able to see the screen or be able to see their test.”
The event offers a wide variety of styles for glasses frames which might otherwise be too expensive at a regular clinic, Knight said. All students need to do for a vision screening and free glasses is sign up online and bring a copy of their financial aid award letter, she said.
“The ability to see and what Von’s Vision is doing — giving students free glasses — is very important,” Knight said.
Registration for the next event will open in October for those eligible. For general information, contact SHS marketing manager Alyssa Seivert at [email protected].

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