Visionary Moorestown woman uses solar eclipse to aid MooreKids

Linda Nemmers flew to Tennessee to retrieve 200 pairs of eclipse glasses for Mooretown residents and is donating the profits from her sale to local nonprofit MooreKids.

Linda Neemers poses with the solar eclipse glasses she sold to raise money for MooreKids on Monday, Aug. 21 in the parking lot of South Valley Elementary School. Photo Courtesy of Harry Faunce.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, the day before the solar eclipse, Moorestown resident Linda Nemmers was beginning to panic. She didn’t have eclipse glasses and was shocked to find that glasses were going for more than $40 on Amazon. In that moment, inspiration struck.

On Sunday, Aug. 20, Nemmers boarded a flight to Memphis and travelled to Bartlett, Tenn., to pick up 200 solar eclipse glasses from manufacturer American Paper Optics. She returned the following morning and sold the glasses at South Valley Elementary School, and in the process, she raised approximately $1,000, which she has since donated to local nonprofit MooreKids.

Nemmers said it all started on Saturday when she took to Facebook and saw she was far from the only person seeking glasses at the last minute. She said she hadn’t ordered glasses from anywhere early enough, and she was hesitant to purchase glasses on Amazon without being able to verify the authenticity.

At that moment, an idea was forming. Nemmers said she knew she wanted to help other parents who had also waited until the last minute. She thought if she could get some glasses, not only would she help her fellow Moorestown parents, but she could sell them for a profit and donate the funds to charity.

Ever resourceful, Nemmers started researching the manufacturer of the authentic eclipse glasses and found out it was located in Bartlett, Tenn. She said she must have called American Paper Optics around 50 times that day and wasn’t getting through, so she went on the company’s Facebook where she discovered it was selling glasses from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

With the glasses being sold at that very moment and no way to get down there in time, Nemmers started contacting hotels in Bartlett when she reached the manager of the local Hampton Inn. Nemmers explained she and many of her fellow Moorestown residents were without glasses, and there wasn’t anyone in town selling them at this point. She explained if someone was willing to purchase the glasses for her, she would fly down to them pick them up, and any proceeds she made from selling the glasses would go to kids in need.

With that, the manager of the Hampton Inn purchased 200 pairs of eclipse glasses for Neemers at $3 per pair. Nemmers, a stewardess with American Airlines, boarded a flight to Memphis on Sunday night and travelled to Bartlett to pick up the glasses — even receiving a ride from Memphis to Bartlett from that same manager.

On Monday morning, Bartlett boarded her return flight, and she said admittedly, she was white-knuckling it. She had posted on Facebook that she was selling the glasses for $10 a pair at South Valley at noon that day, and she knew if for any reason her flight was delayed, she was going to be out the $600 she had paid for them. She said she calmed herself by remembering the impact her sale could have on local kids.

“That’s what spurred me on,” Nemmers said. “If I sell all of them, I’ll have a really good profit for a charity.”

Her flight landed around 10:30 a.m., and Nemmers hurried over to South Valley where she found people were already waiting for her at 11:40 when she pulled in. By 11:55, every pair of glasses had been sold with Nemmers and her son, Ford, each set up at a table trying to keep up with the flood of people.

“My biggest regret was not being able to know how many glasses were needed and not having glasses available even for close friends,” Nemmers said.

She said from the second she posted about going to retrieve the glasses, she was inundated with calls, texts and Facebook messages. Looking back, she thinks she could have sold 400 pairs, as the 200 pairs sold out even before her intended time of sale. She said she was sorry to have to disappoint the people who came at noon or later seeking glasses.

Those who did get glasses were especially warm and gracious, Neemers said.

“People were super kind and very grateful because here was the thing they didn’t think they could get,” Nemmers said.

After deducting the cost of her hotel and car service from Memphis to Bartlett, Nemmers raised $1,000 to donate to MooreKids, a nonprofit that provides under-served youth access to food, sports and extracurricular activities.

Maura Rafferty, treasurer of MooreKids and a friend of Nemmers, said she wasn’t surprised when Neemers contacted her Sunday telling her about her idea to bring glasses to the community and raise funds for MooreKids.

“She is truly one of the most creatively thoughtful people I’ve ever known in my life,” Rafferty said. “She is always (thinking of) ways to fix problems and do good for other people.”

As a small, local nonprofit, MooreKids is supported in large part by local donors, and for that reason, the organization is especially grateful for the donation, Rafferty said. The donation will go into the nonprofit’s general fund, which will go toward initiatives such as providing scholarships for local youth to compete in sports leagues through the Parks & Recreation Department.

After all was said and done, Nemmers said she only kept three pairs of glasses. Both she and her children as well as Rafferty and her kids ended up sharing three pairs of glasses among six people to view the eclipse. Nemmers said she was happy to enable not only her own children to view the eclipse but other children in Moorestown whose parents bought the glasses.

“This town is full of really good people that do a lot of awesome things,” Nemmers said. “You can only get inspired by the stuff that you already see other people do. I was really happy to contribute to what is already a great place to live.”

For more information or to donate to MooreKids, visit http://moorekids.org.