By Vivien Nguyen
QOSS Optometry Giving Sight Chair
It all started at the beginning of the year, when the Queensland Optometry Student Society (QOSS) president Will Chelepy, vice-president Alan Wee and I created a sponsorship package to send to various optical companies, in hopes that their interest would spark donations to help subsidise our annual membership events.
Dakim Optical kindly donated more than 100 brand-new frames.
The original plan had been to simply donate everything to Optometry Giving Sight (OGS), but when the OGS Chair stepped down from her role earlier this year and the responsibility was handed down to me, I was more than happy to accept the role and the challenges that came along with it. I saw it as a fantastic opportunity for me get creative and innovative with how I would approach OGS fundraising for this year. Couple this thought with the massive pile of frames sitting in the corner of my bedroom, and The EyeSight Project was born.
It’s not a secret that people love online shopping. Even if they don't buy anything, the convenience and ease of being able to view things on a screen in the comfort of your own home is powerful. I thought: why not combine the luxury of online shopping and charity together?
Using a free web-hosting service, I created an online domain where QOSS members could browse through a gallery of frames (the very same ones from Dakim Optical) and then select the frame they wish to donate. Each frame donation will go directly towards to OGS, as well as the money raised from the frame purchase itself.
I know that university students living on a budget may be more reluctant to donate to charity, so it was important to provide them with a better idea on what they were actually donating. My intention was to personalise each donation. I wanted each visitor to feel like they’re making an individual contribution. I wanted to allow them to sift through material options, browse through different theme collections and ultimately find the ‘perfect frame’ they’d want to donate.
When the executive team established the goals we’d hope to achieve for the year, the main ones that stood out for me were membership involvement, creating a fun environment for all students, and promoting intra- and inter-year friendships. Getting our members more involved with OGS and making them feel like they're making a personal contribution definitely drove my motivation for this project.
Coming from a refugee family who fled Vietnam during the war, I am immensely grateful for the sacrifices my family had to make in order for me to grow up in a country like Australia, with its endless opportunities and privileges. I strongly believe that having subsidised education, readily available food and water, and free public health-care are some of the biggest luxuries you could possibly have in life.
Because of this, I’ve always had an unwavering passion for patient pastoral care and health-care equality. Studying optometry has definitely solidified this drive and has shown me the importance of eyesight and its critical influence on a patient’s quality of life.
Finally before its launch, we decided to unite The EyeSight Project with the annual OGS bake sale and turn it into a friendly competition to see which year level can raise the most money (with a little end-of-semester incentive for the winning grade). Despite the project being a completely different approach to the usual OGS fundraisers, the overall response has been surprisingly fantastic. After just seven weeks, the Optometry school has raised approximately $1900 in addition to 90+ frame donations.
It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the exponential growth The EyeSight Project has undergone since its beginnings and the overall enthusiasm and involvement of each grade with this fundraising event.