Paul Pierce poses with high school student after giving him a pair of eye glasses (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)
Paul Pierce poses with high school student after giving him a pair of eye glasses (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

The Los Angeles Clippers Foundation collaborated with the non-profit organization Vision to Learn to provide free glasses to students who need them in the Inglewood School District.

To introduce the partnership, on January 19, Clippers players Paul Pierce and Chris Paul visited Pierce’s Alma Mater Inglewood High School to distribute glasses to Inglewood students in need.

“I don’t want to always be labeled as somebody who just helps another kid play basketball. How can you make a difference in another kid’s life education-wise?” said Pierce. “I’ve been able to do those things throughout my career and that is the thing that is most important to me.”

The sponsorship project is the first of its kind in the nation, according to Vision to Learn Founder Austin Beutner. Students from pre-school to high school can receive a free pair of glasses.

“As soon as you can walk, we want to see your eyes and make sure you have what you need all the way to twelfth grade,” said Beutner. “We’re gonna send you off to college with the glasses you still need.”

Along with Pierce and Paul, iconic Los Angeles radio personality Big Boy, Inglewood Mayor Jim Butts, and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas attended the kick-off event.

“Before Austin brought the idea of Vision to Learn to the LA Clippers Foundation, Chris Paul was already working with them, Paul Pierce was already working within the Inglewood School District, doing things for the community who did so much to build him into the man he is today,” said LA Clippers President Gillian Zucker, who was also in attendance.

Vision to Learn started conducting screenings for Inglewood students in November. The next month, students from the organization participated in an on-court presentation when the Clippers battled the Milwaukee Bucks.

“When I was in school, it wasn’t cool to have glasses,” said Paul. “For this to be available for all the kids here in Inglewood, it’s just a huge day here and I’m proud and honored to be here.”

The players gave glasses to 60 high school Students during the event. Pierce is consistently involved in Inglewood high school activities, visiting the campus often, noted Inglewood principal Kyle Douglas.

“He honestly has a key to the school. He’s here frequently, shooting around. He’ll also brings some of the Clippers with him,” said Douglas.

“Anytime that they can take time out of their busy schedules, come and hang out with not only the dignitaries, with the [administration] here at the district, but to give their time, their heart and their effort to the students, it’s a blessing not only to them, but to the students as well.”

Vision To Learn provides free eye exams and glasses to underprivileged youth. The organization has given over 34,000 free pairs of glasses to children in Hawaii, Delaware, Iowa, and California.

“Next to making sure the children have nutrition, being able to see your lesson is critical,” said Butts.

“It’s my honor to get to know Paul Pierce since he got traded to a better team and I had just met Chris Paul and I’m gonna tell you that we’re very fortunate to have them here not because they are accomplished professional athletes, it’s because they’re men of character and they’re men that our children can look up to.”