Morris, Ottawa students see chance to help I Care
Unique opportunity will benefit those in need
Local high school students in Morris and Ottawa will help thousands of people receive eye glasses around the world through an ongoing project with I Care International.
I Care is an organization dedicated to improving the vision and hearing of those in need. Dr. Phil Ortiz, a now-retired Morris optometrist, and the late Dr. Charles Cools of Princeton, Ill., founded the organization in 1989.
The organization has units in Illinois, California and Canada, traveling around the world at the individuals own expense, providing eye care to those who otherwise would never receive it. Mission trips have been to places such as Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Chile, as well as several trips within the United States.
In February, I Care will take a trip to Trujillo, Honduras for their next mission trip, Ortiz said. But first, the group needs to gather as many donated glasses as they can and then have the prescriptions of the glasses measured.
"Because of the shortage of measured glasses we've been able to take with us, I recently contacted honor students and the student council at Morris Community High School," Ortiz said.
In addition to Morris High School students, students at Marquette Academy in Ottawa are also helping I Care. Students will refurbish used glasses using I Care's lensometers, instruments used to check prescriptions in eyeglasses.
The students will be trained on the equipment, and the hope is for the new partnerships to be continuous.
"Dr. Ortiz came in and the kids are really interested in it and want to do it," said Barb Rath, Morris student council and National Honor Society teacher liaison.
"It sounds like such a great project to get involved with, and the kids seem really excited about it," she continued.
At Morris, the school's National Honor Society students, which currently consists of 19 members, will work on the glasses for their community service hours along with the school's student council, which usually has 35 to 40 members and also have required community service hours.
The National Honor Society students need 25 hours of community service and student council members need 10 hours.
At Marquette Academy, all the students are required to have 120 hours of community service before they graduate, Principal Brooke Rick said. There, the opportunity to work on the glasses will be open to all students, and she hopes to get mostly freshmen and sophomores so they can continue to do the work throughout their high school career.
"They have the opportunity to have a sense of belonging to a project and a sense of fulfillment," Rick said.
She said the students will enjoy getting to see something through and having a continuous project.
The new partnerships with the school are important to I Care to ensure the group has thousands of glasses ready for their future trips, Ortiz said.
People with glasses to donate can bring them to Ortiz Eye and Hearing Associates, 880 Bedford Road, Morris.
I Care is also looking for used hearing aides, which can also be donated at the Morris office.
I Care also has an unusual request this year. The people in Honduras they are working with asked if they could help to get two motorized wheelchairs for two paralyzed individuals in need there, Ortiz said. I Care is hoping they can raise enough money to purchase the wheelchairs or find someone who may be willing to donate the chairs.
To assist in obtaining the wheelchairs, contact Dr. Phil Ortiz at (815) 735-6604.
I Care is holding a new fundraiser this year Saturday, Oct. 20 in Ottawa. A Murder Mystery Dinner at Pitstick banquet facility, 3401 N. Illinois 23, Ottawa.
The event will start at 5 p.m. Oct. 20 and includes dinner for $30 a person or $50 per couple. The evening will also include auction items and a raffle for a motor bike. Raffle tickets will also be sold ahead of time for $25 each.
This is the first time for this event. The I Care members wanted to try something different this year, Ortiz said.
I Care is looking for auction items now. Money raised that day will go toward purchasing new lensometers.
For tickets or to donate auction items, call the I Care office at (815) 942-8004 or I Care secretary Debbie Hennigan at (815) 955-9851.