LOCAL NEWS

Utah program takes used solar eclipse glasses from around nation to donate

Apr 8, 2024, 11:06 PM | Updated: 11:09 pm

PROVO The fun and excitement of the solar eclipse may now be fading, but one Provo business explains its now marking the start of a huge project for them.

They’re collecting used eclipse glasses, for a program that is putting them front and center around the nation.

Utahns who didn’t stick around in the Beehive State hunted for the best totality viewing spots, leading them to places like Danville, Arkansas.

“My son, 17 years old, said, ‘Let’s go to the solar eclipse,'” said Scott Hansen, who lives in the town of Elwood in Box Elder County.

He said he missed out on the eclipse in 2017, with totality just a hop, skip, and a jump from him at the time.

This time the zone of totality was quite a bit further, but a trek he and his family were willing to make.

“We started looking, where is it going to be clear, a good chance of it,” he said.

John Cope, another Utahn who found himself in Arkansas Monday, said the same thing.

“We drove all night to get here, so that was far enough,” he said.

As they and our own KSL team joined in on the eclipse-chasing, Roger Sarkis spent his day tracking a different phenomenon in Provo.

It was one he never saw coming.

“This is way more than I thought we’d ever get,” he said, looking at hundreds of emails in his inbox on his laptop.

The UVU earth science educator’s side business, Eclipse Glasses USA, runs a program to donate used certified eclipse glasses. Apparently, it went viral on social media in the last few days, leading to more than a thousand emails flooding his inbox on Monday, alone.

Provo family projected to sell half a million glasses for total solar eclipse

“We’re already pushing an estimated 10,000 pairs offered to us already,” he said.

Sarkis said the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Mastercard, universities, hospitals, and large U.S. cities including St. Louis reached out to ask about donating thousands of eclipse glasses no longer needed.

“‘We don’t want to throw these away, we want to do something with them,'” Sarkis said, of what everyone is expressing in their emails. “Which is really a cool thing to see.”

He plans to ship thousands of glasses to schools in Hawaii and Latin America in the next eclipse path in October. Sarkis said he reached out to the Hawaii Department of Education and plans to work with Astronomers Without Borders.

Sarkis explained that they focus on underserved communities and students, specifically Title I schools.

“As a teacher myself, my ethos is that I want students and adults everybody to have the opportunity to look at this really amazing event,” he said.

Sarkis noted that they only take certified glasses manufactured in the United States. That means the eclipse glasses cannot be made in China and need to include the American-based manufacturer business and address on the inside. There should also be an ISO logo stamped on the edge of the glasses.

As he goes through every email, replying with information on donating, Sarkis hopes to pass on the passion for the rare, spectacular, celestial sight.

“We all gathered to watch this eclipse for like this human moment,” Sarkis said, adding, “And now people are kind of gathering again to try and help these students.”

To learn more about how to donate used, certified eclipse glasses, click here.

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Utah program takes used solar eclipse glasses from around nation to donate