BOCA RATON, Fla.—Attendees at this year’s Professional Eye Care Associates of America (PECAA) Annual Meeting, held in Las Vegas from April 29 to May 1, donated more than $38,000 to local nonprofit Goodie Two Shoes Foundation, the group announced. The gift was enabled through PECAA Gives, a charitable giving program that allows members, strategic vendor partners and PECAA employees to support an organization in the annual meeting’s host city. According to the announcement, the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation was started in 2003 by retired NFL San Diego Charger Tony Berti and his wife Nikki to provide new shoes to disadvantaged children.

Thanks to the generosity of the PECAA community, the foundation received the largest amount raised in PECAA Gives history, the announcement said.

PECAA president Jonathan Worrall said, “The PECAA Gives program and its positive impact in communities throughout the country is only possible due to the compassion and generosity of members, vendor partners and our team. We are thankful for their dedication in supporting organizations who provide critical services for those in need and serve to strengthen our collective community.”

The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation gives children the opportunity to pick their own pair of new shoes alongside a volunteer who ensures the child is the center of attention for the day. Bringing shoes directly to children at their school or referring agency year-round, the program has grown to include a mobile unit outfitted as a shoe store on wheels, helping the foundation serve 10,000 at-risk children in Southern Nevada annually, according to the announcement.

"The PECAA Annual Meeting demonstrated the incredible power that can come from a community united in purpose. Thousands of local children will receive new shoes and socks thanks to the active giving and support shared by PECAA and so many of its thoughtful members and vendors,” said Goodie Two Shoes Foundation co-founder & CEO Nikki Berti. "This incredible collective support will transform the lives of so many children in need, and for all that, and the authentic enthusiasm shared for our work, I am deeply, deeply grateful.”

Community is at the core of PECAA’s values, according to the group, and leaving a positive imprint in host cities is foundational to the annual meeting. With this goal in mind, PECAA Gives launched in 2016 when PECAA’s signature event took place in New Orleans and attendees donated to the Edna Carr High School Marching Band. Since its inception, PECAA Gives has raised more than $185,000 on behalf of nine charitable organizations in nine cities, the group said.

The 2023 PECAA Gives beneficiary, My Bag, My Story, in Nashville, Tenn., received nearly $35,000 toward its mission to provide new bags to children in the foster care system. Founder Cara Finger created the organization after her own experience as a foster parent where she noticed that the children she hosted often arrived with a trash or grocery bag or no bag at all.

The new bags give the children something to call their own while elevating their dignity and self-respect, according to PECAA. “The PECAA Gives donation was the largest amount of money we’d ever gotten at one time,” said Finger. “Our goal for 2023 was to double our impact of 500 bags from the previous year. Thanks to PECAA Gives, we were able to give twice as many bags and then some, for a total of 1,400 bags to kids across Nashville.”

“PECAA Gives was created from a desire to give back to the cities that welcome us with open arms for the PECAA Annual Meeting,” said PECAA Gives program manager Jenny Wiley. “While we’re only in a city for a short while, our intent is to leave behind a legacy of support that helps organizations continue to serve the needs of their beloved communities.”