Deborah Keys, chemistry teacher at Jones High and one of the originators of the program, said they have been selling pickles at the high school since Valentine’s Day to pay for the eyeglasses that so many students need but cannot afford.
“We originally sold them for the Keisha Quintero Scholarship Program. After we turned in that money, we still had kids who wanted pickles.”
They had a product and had demand. But they had no purpose.
A short time later, she was at a church function one evening and met Dr. Elizabeth Perez.
She mentioned her idea to Perez, who was instantly intrigued.
“She had no idea I was an eye doctor,” Perez said.
Well, Perez wanted to do her part, so she volunteered to do the eye exams for free.
“I just wanted to give back to the community,” she said.
The eye exams don’t cost a dime, but the glasses do.
Dr. Bronte Baker agreed to supply the glasses at a cost of only $25.
“That may not sound like much,” Keys said. “But some of these parents don’t have $25.”
So far, they have paid for about five pairs of glasses, which has dwindled their reserves.
Linda Holder, who heads up Key Club and is working with Keys on the project, said that she is pleased with what they have done but knows there are many more students who still need glasses.
“Both of us this year had students that just flat could not see the periodic table,” Holder said. “They could not see the board.”
Holder and Keys are not too proud to add that they would gladly take pickle donations or money to keep the program going.
“They cannot learn if they cannot see,” Holder said.
You wouldn’t know it by looking, but Keys too wears glasses and remembers her youth.
She was reluctant to tell her parents of her diminished ability to see because of the cost of glasses.
She knows of so many students in school now that, for whatever reason, need glasses but don’t have them.
“The students will wear my prescription safety glasses just so they can see,” Keys said.
“Three students would share the goggles,” Holder added. “Another child was willing to wear a pair of broken glasses.”
Boyd is one of those students who needs glasses — although not a strong prescription.
Sitting in the eye exam room of Perez in Dr. Baker’s office, she squints slightly to see the letters.
“I O P Q R,” she reads. But, as the letters get smaller, she reads more slowly, and eventually she struggles even to decipher part of a line.
As a child — she is 16 now — she needed reading glasses.
“I can see close-up now,” she said. “I just can’t see far away.”
So, with prescription in hand, she sifted through the glasses with the help of Joyce Baker.
“How about these?” Baker said in an enthusiastic voice.
“I like those,” Baker said but was met with a disapproving shake of the head.
“I like the black ones,” Boyd said.
Amazingly, it took only trying on about a dozen pair — that’s quite a feat, as anyone who has ever looked for glasses will attest.
Sliding the new glasses on, Boyd smiled even bigger.
“You guys are awesome,” she said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.