It’s the time of year when we catalog those reasons why we’re thankful and think about ways to give back. Last year, Americans contributed an estimated $427 billion to charitable causes, according to the Giving USA Foundation. And many of those donations roll in at the end of the year, due to a mix of holiday spirit and end-of-year tax planning.

As the holidays approach, we took the opportunity to talk to Ziemer ophthalmologists about their favorite charities.

Tom Tooma, M.D. “My wife, Marta, and I started The Mission at Natuvu Creek in Fiji which serves more than 12,000 patients a year for all their medical and dental needs. In a way, it feels like a selfish act, because the people who serve get so much out of serving the needy. It just feels awesome.”
Tom Tooma, M.D. is the Founder/Medical Director of NVISION EYE CENTERS

Scott MacRae, M.D.”I love bicycling and riding with friends so I’m heavily involved in promoting safe biking and walking through our local urban design organization Reconnect Rochester. The organization has been instrumental in giving people access to safe streets and places where they can walk and bike. Humans were made to move and having a bike and walking-friendly environment dramatically improves people’s health, safety and the quality of life.”
Scott M. Macrae, M.D. is an ophthalmologist at University of Rochester Medical Center

Mark Lobanoff, M.D. “I’m a proud advocate of the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) in Minnesota. CHA is an 85-year-old organization that supports Children’s Minnesota, a top pediatric care hospital and research medical center. CHA’s primary mission is to fund the hospital care expenses for children of need as well as fund specialized programs that make Children’s Minnesota unique, including Autism Spectrum Disorder Care, Child Life in the ED, Child’s Cancer Survivor Program, Music Therapy, Mental Health Special Needs, Runaway Prevention, Pediatric Obesity, and Spiritual Care. Illness can be hard to bear for any adult, but it can be especially hard on children. The CHA works hard to lift some of the burdens on children suffering from illness, making their lives happier and helping them to heal.”
Mark Lobanoff, M.D., is an ophthalmologist practicing in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Douglas Koch, M.D. “One of my favorite charities is DonorsChoose. It was founded by a high school teacher in the Bronx in 2000 and provides a way for teachers, typically in low-income school districts, to solicit donations to fund projects for their students. Unfortunately, many of our public schools lack important resources. By donating, one can help teachers purchase computers, books, musical instruments, science projects, and on and on. The children write thank-you notes that are sent to donors…truly moving to see how these items excite them and enrich their lives.”
Dr. Koch is a professor in ophthalmology at The Cullen Eye Institute, Baylor College of Medicine

Bret L. Fisher, M.D. “One of my favorite charities is Flying Samaritans. When I was first in practice in San Diego after finishing my residency, I helped Flying Samaritans expand an existing optometry clinic to include an eye surgery facility in Tecate, Mexico, which provided desperately needed cataract surgery and other surgical eye services to those in need. We received many contributions of equipment, lens implants, and disposables from Alcon and other companies, and were also fortunate to have residents from training programs in Southern California attend the clinics to assist. The many people we were able to help, as well as the wonderful and committed volunteers that I met during the years I worked with Flying Samaritans, is something I will never forget.”
Bret Fisher serves as Medical Director of the Eye Center of North Florida