McLean Eagle Scout Collects Thousands of Eyeglasses

McLEAN — When 15-year-old Anthony Feghali (right) discovered that most of the people in the world who need eyeglasses cannot afford them, he was inspired to do something about it. Feghali, who attends McLean High School, is an altar server at St. John Church in McLean, a graduate of St. John School and a member of Boy Scout Troop 652 of McLean. For his Eagle Scout project, Feghali hoped to collect 300-400 pairs of eyeglasses to send to poor people in Lebanon. Feghali’s parents were born in Lebanon and he has camped there with the Boy Scouts. His family also belongs to Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church. Assisted by more than 60 people, Feghali collected almost 5,000 pairs of usable eyeglasses and more than 1,000 eyeglass cases. He estimates the total value of the collected glasses to be $1 million, with each pair worth $240-$400. Feghali started planning the project in March. Fellow Scouts from Troop 652 helped him assemble eyeglass collection boxes in the Feghalis’ garage. The boxes were clearly marked "Boy Scout Eagle Project…Your Unwanted Glasses Will Help Someone See Better." Feghali then distributed the boxes to Scouts, churches, hospitals, optometry stores and other locations in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. By mid-August he had collected about 12,000 pairs of glasses. Then the process of determining which glasses were usable began. Lenscrafters in Roanoke referred him to the Lions Club in Falls Church, which has a facility for refurbishing used eyeglasses. Over three days, Feghali and 14 others cleaned the glasses and checked for any defects in the lenses. Volunteers cleaned the glasses at three large tubs filled with soap solution, Clorox or vinegar. After discarding glasses with scratched lenses, volunteers slid the glasses into a lensometer to determine prescription strength. Each set of eyeglasses was enclosed in a plastic bag. The bags were labeled with the prescription and whether the glasses were for men, women, or children, or bifocal. Feghali was able to salvage 140 pairs of children’s glasses. He explained that finding undamaged children’s glasses is "very rare." The glasses have been sorted and boxed and are stored in the Feghalis’ dining room. The Rene Moawad Foundation of Washington will ship the glasses, which will be distributed to the needy in Lebanon. Since 1990, the Rene Moawad Foundation has sponsored efforts to help the deprived in Lebanon. After submitting a very detailed report on his Eagle Scout project, Feghali is awaiting final recognition by Boy Scout national headquarters. Meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus St. John Council No. 11806 of McLean has recognized Feghali as an Outstanding Young Man of the Year finalist. Feghali said he "was completely shocked" at the number of usable glasses he was able to collect. He would like to continue collecting eyeglasses and has talked to the Lions Club about having Scouts come several times a year to refurbish glasses. Feghali said the Lions Club is looking for individuals or groups to volunteer to refurbish and sort eyeglasses. For information contact Clark Erickson at 703/241-7004 or at Lions Club, 212 N. West St., Falls, Church, Va. 22046.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001