Optical Companies Step Up With Donations to Aid Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

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NEW YORK—Since Hurricane Harvey first hit southeastern Texas late last week and the rain and flooding worsened into this week, the optical industry has responded swiftly to aid those affected by Harvey and its aftermath. But the severity of the storm—which led to national shipping companies such as Fed Ex and UPS suspending deliveries to the affected areas as of midweek—has left many in the area still trying to assess the overall damages.

As VMail previously reported, many professional organizations and companies have been reaching out and have committed to making donations to support the recovery and relief efforts.

In addition to its initial outreach, Essilor has announced that it will donate more than $100,000 to those impacted by this catastrophic event. Essilor has committed $25,000 to Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief, a program of Optometry Cares—the American Optometric Foundation, to aid in the recovery of all impacted in the industry.

In addition, Vision Source is collecting donations to aid the 60 locations and 400 staff impacted by the storm through their Vision Source Foundation. Essilor said it will match all donations to the Vision Source Foundation dollar for dollar up to $25,000. Essilor also will provide the same donations to PERC/IVA and Opti-Port to provide aid for their locations and staff members in the region.

Essilor will also take donations from corporate employees to aid their fellow employees in the region impacted by the storm. The company will match these donations dollar for dollar. The Essilor Vision Foundation is working with its partners in the affected region and mobilizing to offer support in the coming days and weeks.

While all Hoya employees in the Houston area affected by Hurricane Harvey are safe, the company’s Houston Service Center remains closed because it was flooded during the storm. Hoya encourages those who can to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief by texting REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation, sign up to donate blood at one of the organization’s donation sites, be a volunteer for All Hands Volunteers, and give to Optometry Cares—The Optometry Foundation.

Wiley X, Inc. is launching a company-wide and nationwide effort to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Wiley X kicked off this program on Sept. 1 with a $5,000 donation to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund set up specifically for Hurricane Harvey victims.

In addition to this donation, Wiley X will donate a percentage from both its online and in-store sales to support Red Cross relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Through Sept. 30th, Wiley X will donate 10 percent of all sales through its online store and 5 percent of all dealer purchases (at wholesale) to help raise additional funds for this critical disaster relief effort.

A&A Optical is supporting its neighbors along the Texas coast, Louisiana border and the metropolitan areas of Houston and Beaumont in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. A&A Optical will donate a percentage of all proceeds through October 2017 to organizations assisting with the relief of Hurricane Harvey, including the American Red Cross, Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and Optometry Cares – The AOA Foundation (specifically Optometry’s Fund for Disaster Relief).

“During this very challenging time for many of our fellow Texans and Louisianans, A&A Optical would like to offer our assistance to all of our customers affected by this devastating hurricane and its aftermath,” stated Robert Liener, A&A Optical CEO/president. “We will do whatever we can to support and aid them in reestablishing their businesses and practices. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Customers directly impacted by the storm can reach out to A&A Optical for information about special payment terms and to sales consultants for special programs.

The nonprofit organization OneSight also has been active in supporting the relief efforts in Houston. The organization has been in constant contact with its local partners to understand how to best offer support and has initiated the following efforts, according to a statement:

To best serve those with urgent needs, OneSight will send eyewear to independent eyecare providers and local LensCrafters stores and, under the umbrella of its Ready Set See challenge, the funds raised for to support a U.S. vision center will be dedicated to providing glasses to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. In addition, OneSight also is planning programming for the greater Houston area, as it believes clear sight will be a critical tool in the rebuilding efforts.

Independent eyecare providers with finishing labs can request frames by Sept. 7, and OneSight will provide up to 2,000 eyewear frames to independent eyecare providers serving those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. For further information, independent ECPs may contact Eric Schlueter of OneSight at ESchluet@onesight.org or by telephone at (513) 262-1302.

For Texas State Optical—a member-owned cooperative which has approximately 120 locations in Texas and Louisiana—many employees and TSO members are beginning to return to their businesses as of Aug. 31. “[Thursday] was the first day people are returning to their offices, and we are gathering an assessment of those offices impacted by the hurricane,” TSO president John Marvin told VMail.

The Texas Optometric Association in conjunction with the Optometry Cares-The AOA Foundation, is assisting qualifying optometrists whose lives and practices have been disrupted by the hurricane with grants up to $4,000 in immediate financial relief. The TOA is also opening its classified section to Texas optometrists affected by the storm. ECPs may place classified ads for practice help, opportunities and other information. Members simply click here and non-members can contact the association at TOAdesk@txeyedoctors.com and they will send the information.

For National Vision, the safety of associates and affiliated optometrists is the top priority. “Hurricane Harvey has had a significant impact on the Houston community as well as our retail locations in those areas,” a spokesperson for the company told VMail. “Our Houston stores are currently closed and will remain closed until it is safe for our team members, customers and patients to re-open.” National Vision is working to assist in the efforts and will continue to explore the best ways to support team members and the communities affected during this time of need.

Highmark Inc., the health insurance provider of Highmark Health, is contributing $50,000 to the American Red Cross to support the nonprofit’s effort to provide food, shelter, relief supplies and other assistance to the residents of southeast Texas. Highmark will also contribute $10,000 to match the gift from its HVHC business unit to the San Antonio Area Foundation. The foundation has created a fund to provide support to employees impacted by the hurricane. HVHC includes Davis Vision and Visionworks. In addition, Highmark’s stop-loss insurer, HM Insurance Group, has donated $50,000 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (Greater Houston Community Foundation) to provide food, shelter and other support to those affected by the flooding and devastation.

During the peak of the hurricane last weekend, 34 of Visionworks’ stores in the affected areas in Texas were closed in order to ensure the “safety of customers and employees,” a spokesman for the company told VMail. As of Sept. 1, all but three of these stores will have reopened, he added. The three stores that remain closed are in Cypress, Baytown and Port Arthur, Texas.

"The people of Texas are part of the Highmark Health family, both as employees and customers," David Holmberg, president and chief executive officer of Highmark Health, said in an announcement. "We're committed to getting health care right for our members, patients and communities, which includes doing what's right –especially when help is needed most. The people of Texas are in our thoughts and prayers."

DentaQuest—the second largest oral health company in the U.S., based in Boston—wired one million dollars to the Rebuild Texas Fund launched by The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

“We know the road to recovery will not be easy, but we are here to support Texas,” DentaQuest president and CEO, Steve Pollock said. “Alone we can help individuals, but together we can rebuild communities. Along with our contribution, I urge others to help Governor Abbott reach the goal of $100 million for relief efforts.”

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will donate another dollar for every two dollars donated to the Rebuild Texas Fund over the Labor Day Weekend. The Rebuild Texas Fund will work with organizations across the state to stabilize families with a focus on four areas: health and housing; schools and childcare; workforce and transportation; and capital for rebuilding small businesses.

In addition to supporting the rebuilding efforts, DentaQuest, which provides Medicaid dental services in the state, continues to work with Medicaid enrollees and dentists to help those affected by the storm get the support they need. DentaQuest works with over 6,350 dental providers in the state of Texas who serve roughly 1.7 million Texans. Many of the people they serve reside in some of the hardest hit areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

DentaQuest Medicaid members or dental provider that need support can contact (800) 896-2374 (providers) or (800) 516-0165 (members) or find DentaQuest on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Click here for more information about DentaQuest.

Mindful Eyes—an optical charity that grew out of the Project Homeless Connect Vision—has three companies in Texas that have donated 25,000 square feet of warehouse space to preposition optical supplies for those in need. Three thousand frames have been donated by TC Charlton Eyewear, Optical Source Unlimited, Europa Eyewear, Elevate Digital Optics, Spectera and many others.

In addition to donations to the Texas Optometry Association and Texas Opticians Association, the organization is working to complete an optometric supply store where ODs and opticians who are rebuilding can walk in and find every optometric and optical supply they need to get their practices running the next day, a spokesperson told VMail.

Once practices are up and running, Mindful Eyes also aims to ensure those optical professionals are able to easily provide completely free frames and lenses to their affected patients to speed their recovery. Mindful Eyes also hopes to, in the coming months, provide large clinics across south-east Texas, where volunteers can provide an exam and eyeglasses at no charge to people from Houston, Corpus Christ, Rockport and Beaumont.

Among the companies that previously made commitments to fund the relief efforts are: Optometry Cares—the AOA Foundation, Vision Source, The Allergan Foundation, Luxottica, VSP, Essilor, American Eyewear and New York Eye. They are joined by hundreds of individual ECPs and industry colleagues who have also posted their support for the region on social media throughout the week.

Vision Monday and VMail will continue to monitor the relief activities and status of impacted offices, retailers, labs and suppliers as details become available. Please send any related information to vmeditor@jobson.com.