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Fiat lux: Solar-powered lights, created by UCSB engineer, on sale Tuesday

Looking for an unusual holiday gift? You might consider a small, portable solar-powered LED study light, perfect for bedtime reading, early morning meditation or any other time you need to shed a little light on the subject.

You can purchase the lights in the Franklin lobby from 12 to 1 p.m. this Tuesday, Nov. 19. Buy one for yourself or someone on your gift list for $20, and a second one will go to one of these two outreach efforts spearheaded by UC staffers:

  • Medical Missions Kenya, a volunteer effort spearheaded by UCLA nurse Millicent Manyore to bring needed care to medical clinics in rural villages outside Nairobi.
  • Nkomo Primary School in Mnqobokazi, a rural community in Zululand, South Africa, which has been supported for the last 11 years by UCOP staffer Suzanne Cross.

John Bowers, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UC Santa Barbara, created the lights to help the world’s estimated 1.4 billion people who don’t have electricity.

The lights have become well known around UCOP since last spring, when Bowers appeared in an Onward UC video. Then Cross started selling them in a “buy one—get one” campaign to help Nkomo schoolchildren do their homework at night. She has already sent more than 500 lights to Nkomo and other area schools and is now partnering with Medical Missions Kenya to help support Manyore’s medical mission there.

Direct donations are tax-deductible and light purchases are 50 percent tax deductible (cash or check only, please). Receipts will be provided for your purchase or donation.

If you can’t make it to the sale, you can purchase lights or make donations directly at Unite To Light, the nonprofit Bowers set up to distribute the lights. Go to “Donate” or “Order” in the navigation bar and select “Mnqobokazi Community, South Africa” under “Donation Recipient.”

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