The Specsavers stores in South Australia have joined forces to raise money for Guide Dogs SA, which has been assisting thousands of the state’s vision-impaired residents for more than 60 years.

All 26 SA stores will be raising money for Guide Dogs SA until the end of November 2017 through the Specsavers Community Program, which sees stores donate a portion of all glasses sales to the charity.

Once the final figure has been calculated, the local store owners have pledged to double their donations to Guide Dogs SA from their own pockets. A variety of other fundraising initiatives are planned, including a charity ball which will be attended by all Specsavers team members in the state.

Guide Dogs SA aims to enhance the quality of everyday living of people in SA who are vision or hearing impaired. Guide dogs help people regain the ability to do things that many people take for granted: catch public transport, go to school or work, or simply move through the community with confidence. They can also provide a sense of freedom, safety, potential, independence and of companionship.

To raise, train, and place a guide dog costs over $35,000, and Guide Dogs SA receives just 30% of funds needed from the government. As such, Guide Dogs SA relies on the support of the community to provide services to those in need.

“We are very grateful to the Specsavers SA store partners and the generous support of their customers,” Guide Dogs SA Team Leader Alix Katala commented. “Their donations will allow us to make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of people suffering sensory disabilities, who require a guide dog to go about everyday life without difficulty.”

Guide Dogs SA has a long history in training and placing guide dogs and supporting people with vision or hearing loss in SA. The organisation has also been responsible for many firsts, including the creation of the first mobile educational display unit in Australia and the first guide dogs team to be trained in using ‘sonic spectacles’, a sensory aid program.

“We are thrilled to give our customers the opportunity to help us give back to Guide Dogs SA through the Specsavers Community Program,” Specsavers Norwood store partner Ryan Weight said. “All of the money donated will be from our personal profits so we wanted it to go towards something we have a real passion for that directly benefits people in our home, South Australia. This initiative came about when all of our SA store owners got together and voted. The work Guide Dogs SA does is indispensable for people who require assistance for hearing and vision.”

The Specsavers Community Program raises funds for selected local charities chosen by stores, and The Fred Hollows Foundation, by providing customers with a token that represents a donation for each pair of glasses purchased at Specsavers. Customers can then use the token to select which charity they would like to support and a subsequent donation is made by the store.