Some Long Islanders are collecting solar eclipse glasses to send to children in South America for when they get their full solar eclipse in October.  Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Watching the moon slowly devour the sun was fun Monday, and now that the episode has passed, numerous Long Islanders are collecting eclipse glasses to donate to underserved places around the world so others can safely enjoy these celestial events.

John Motchkavitz, a robotics teacher at Great Neck South High School, said the idea to collect and donate the cardboard safety glasses emerged just after the eclipse. His 100-student robotics team jumped into action, he said.

"We were all joking around, 'When's the next time we'll use them?' " said Motchkavitz, 56, who regularly gets the team involved in community efforts to collect books and feed the needy. "We said, 'Let's work on collecting these and donating them.' "

Teacher John Motchkavitz, top left, and robotics students Sophia Chen,...

Teacher John Motchkavitz, top left, and robotics students Sophia Chen, Beatrice Malfi and Trevor Boshnack are among those collecting eclipse glasses at Great Neck South High School. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Beatrice Malfi, a senior and member of the robotics team, posted notices on Instagram and hit up family members and classmates to add their glasses to the collection bin set up at the school. 

Malfi, 17, said she wanted to share the feeling she experienced watching the moon sweep in front of the sun.

"The eclipse was bigger than the human race and humanity. It puts in perspective our own lives," she said.

Several Islanders collecting the glasses said they've yet to work out the logistics to deliver them, while others are working with the nonprofit advocacy group Astronomers Without Borders.

The California-based group has been collecting the glasses since the 2017 eclipse in North America, when it amassed 3 million pairs. About 300,000 of them met safety standards and were shipped to schools and municipalities in Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Afghanistan and some small villages in Ethiopia, said communication manager Andrew Fazekas.

"These eclipses are very inspiring to young people, but many don't have the luxury of having protective eyewear," he said. "It's a great way to unlock a science educational opportunity."

This time around, Astronomers Without Borders has set up 300 collection sites around the country, and "in the last 24 hours we received 1,200 inquires for more collection sites," he said Wednesday. The sites can be found on the group's website,

Meanwhile, collection bins are popping up on Long Island. 

The staff at Harborfields Public Library in Greenlawn has set up a collection box, said assistant director Linda Meglio. They're coordinating with Astronomers Without Borders.

Jeff O'Neill, a volunteer EMT at the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, said he saw the collection idea online and decided to run with it. He said people can drop off glasses at the squad at 2 Railroad St., Huntington Station.

"These things would end up in a landfill," O'Neill said. "Maybe somebody could use them."

Lori Badanes, owner of the toy store Einstein's Attic, said her Island stores in Northport and Huntington will collect the glasses this weekend.

"We can repurpose them so children who might not normally have them can view eclipses," she said.

Eclipses occur about every six months around the world, and North America will see its next full eclipse in August 2045, Fazekas said. The southern tip of South America will see one Oct. 2, and the northwest part of Africa will see a partial eclipse in 2025, he said.

With a pair of safety glasses, children there will be able to safely view, as Fazekas said, the moon take a bite out of the sun.

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