On June 5, more than 140 needy children from the Houston area were fitted with free hearing aids, courtesy of the Starkey Hearing Foundation as part of Lift Up America’s kickoff event. Area teachers, counselors, and social workers identified the children in need.

After hearing tests and ear impressions were performed, the custom hearing aids were carried to Houston by Bill Austin, Starkey founder and CEO, and a team of Starkey volunteers. The fittings took place at the offices of Somebody Cares Houston, a ministry for inner-city youth.

“You have no idea how big this is,” says Laura Prejean, a teacher at Hancock Elementary, a public school for hearing impaired children in the Cypress-Fairbanks school district. “We (the school) are prohibited by law from dispensing hearing aids, so to give 31 of our children the ability to hear is just huge. There is no way we could have done this.”