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Cape Coral Eye Center making holiday brighter for many

By Staff | Dec 20, 2010

From sponsoring more than 275,000 postcards to reach every home in Lee County, to helping scoop up teddy bears alongside the Florida Everblades, the Cape Coral Eye Center doctors, staff, family and friends went above and beyond to support the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program this year.
And that was not all. They also helped greet the iconic Rockettes with the Marines, and helped launch the distribution of toys at a ribbon cutting at a new Salvation Army distribution center to support the cause.
“This is a community I grew up in, and my children are growing up here,” Dr. Farrell Tyson, chief executive officer and medical director of the Cape Coral Eye Center, said. “It is an obligation to help those in need. No child should be neglected because of the recession.”
When asked why the center became so extensively involved in the program, Tyson pointed out the business’ unique position.
“We have been a part of this community for over 30 years and we have six locations, so we are uniquely positioned to bring together our friends, neighbors and patients with the major forces that drive this community,” he said. “Together we can provide the personal support and other resources to ensure that children’s needs in our community do not go unmet.”
Those involved included every area of the organization, from the founders to directors to staff.
The program was perfect for those who wanted to give of their time during the holiday season, and also for those who want to give to a charity, but do not have a lot of cash to give, the founder of Cape Coral Eye Center, Dr. Ben Martin, said.
Staff, friends and clients encouraged giving. People could purchase a toy, within their own comfort level, and still experience the joy of giving without breaking the bank.
The group was commended by both Postmaster Anne M. Murray and Judy Bowler, who heads up the local Salvation Army Toys for Tots campaign.
“We appreciate the contributions that Cape Coral Eye Center made toward the printing of the Toys for Tots Campaign card,” Murray said. “They also provided volunteers to unload the mail trucks at the Cape central branch and Page Field branch when the toys were picked up by our mail carriers. A project such as this takes the involvement of many.”
She also noted the center’s volunteer work at another event.
“It was a heartwarming sight at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Salvation Army to see so many community volunteers who worked diligently on the Toys for Tots program this year,” she said.
The Cape Coral Eye Center provided support by working with a coalition of the Marine Corps Reserve, the Lee County postal workers and the Salvation Army. Their role was to provide the sponsorship of the 275,000 postcards that were distributed to every home in Lee, oversee advertising of the campaign in print and television, and provide collection points at their six locations.
Cape Coral Eye Center doctors and staff spent countless hours of their personal time, trying to do whatever necessary to ensure the success of the program. Martin, along with wife, Dr. Suzi Martin, attended the opening event with the Marines at the Barbara B. Mann Hall with the Rockettes, as well as the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Salvation Army to open the distribution of the toys.
The ultimate matriarch Barbara B. Mann herself attended the ceremony, to the delight of many.
Starting with the collection of the toys from letter carriers, who had volunteered to extend their own time and effort in early December to collect new toys that people had set out along their routes, Eye Center staff became involved with the toys that were carried to the post office’s collection points in Fort Myers and Cape Coral, where volunteers met the trucks to unload and sort the toys for delivery to the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army staff and volunteers will distribute the toys, along with other items, to the families in need in Lee County. During the letter carrier drive, more than ten thousand toys were collected.
“My husband loved chasing the little mail trucks through the parking lot so he could fill up his cart with toys,” Michelle Pizza, an RN at the center’s surgery center, said. “I think I have a frustrated Santa Claus there.”
Cape Coral Eye Center staff also helped gather bears off the ice at the Annual Teddy Bear toss at Germain arena during the Everblades game, where more than 4,000 stuffed animals were collected from generous Everblades fans.
When the Everblades scored their first goal of the night, Eye Center Information Technology Director Keith Lamb, along with his wife, Teri, hit the ice with other volunteers to scoop up the bears from the frozen arena.
“We saw so much generosity and compassion on display as we helped pick up the teddy bears tossed to the ice by fans at Germain Arena. The experience chilled my hands but warmed my heart,” he said.
Marketing and Public Relations Manager Kimberly Smith said the teamwork and synergy between the entities and people involved in the success of this program have her in awe.
“Our communities really rallied, like Del Tura and Lake Fairways who brought in large donations, and you should have seen the rows and rows of bikes and trikes at the Salvation Army after the delivery from Olde Bridge, whose residents collected money all year long to donate an astounding 86 bicycles and 36 tricycles. Storm Smart used their trucks to make the delivery,” she said.
“There are also so many generous groups who supported this cause, from Direct Impressions who helped offset our cost of the postcards, to Comcast, Waterman Broadcasting, the North Fort Myers Neighbor and the News-Press who helped with our promotions and even helped staff some of our collections, I have felt such camaraderie I cannot express enough thank yous,” she said.
“Our staff has really enjoyed interacting with their patients and people who dropped their toys at their centers, and in helping with the collection of toys at the post offices and at the Teddy Bear Toss at Germain Arena,” Tyson said. “Just the idea of brightening the day of a child less fortunate was a joy for our staff and patients.”
“I got very touching notes, almost daily, about people they’ve met along the way and the personal gratification they’ve felt, all in the spirit of giving. I’m proud to be a part of it and can’t wait to start it up again next year,” he said.
The Cape Coral Eye Center has six locations, three in North Fort Myers and three in Cape Coral. For information, call 542-2020.