‘Touchstone’ Stories Released One hundred stories tell the century-old story of Lions Clubs International (LCI). In advance of the centennial of Lions Clubs in 2017, LCI has written 100 “Touchstone” stories that, in sum, describe what Lions are all about. The stories run the gamut: from Leader Dogs, Leos and Lions Quest to Melvin Jones, Helen Keller and Jimmy Carter. The stories detail the founding and expansion of Lions, the various service projects of Lions worldwide and the culture of camaraderie and fun that permeates clubs. The following Touchstone story and the other 99 are available at lions100.org. Each month the LION will include a Touchstone story as well as the latest centennial news. Lions Recycle for Sight The World Health Organization estimates that more than 150 million people suffer from blurred vision due to uncorrected refractive errors such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. The inability to see clearly can prevent children from learning in school, adults from finding work or staying employed and older adults from living independently. Often, a simple pair of eyeglasses can bring the world into focus, but a lack of access to basic care prevents many people in developing nations from getting the treatment they need. Cost is also an issue; a pair of glasses may cost as much as a month’s wages. However, with the help of Lions around the world and the Recycle for Sight program, LCI is bringing clear vision to millions, one pair of glasses at a time. Through Recycle for Sight, Lions collect new and gently used eyeglasses and sunglasses in collection bins at a variety of locations in their communities: libraries, doctors’ offices, schools, sidewalks, banks and retail stores. The glasses are then shipped to the nearest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center, where employees or volunteers sort the glasses, clean them and determine their prescription strength. After carefully packaging the refurbished spectacles, Lions store them until they can be distributed through humanitarian missions to developing nations. Lions and professional eye care specialists sometimes screen thousands of children and adults during sight missions, providing them—free of charge—with prescription lenses, frames and ultimately a better quality of life. Lions also distribute recycled glasses to nonprofit organizations focused on eye care, as well as to optometry college groups, religious organizations and military assistance groups. Eyeglass recycling, one of the most popular activities for Lions around the world, dates back to the 1930s. Similar to today, Lions gathered glasses in their communities and gave them to those most in need. For example, in the early 1960s, the Hayes & Harlington Lions Club in England collected more than 20,000 pairs of glasses for those with vision impairment in India. In 1994, Lions Clubs turned their longtime efforts into an official program under the name Recycle for Sight. With a common identity and common format, the program has continued to expand. Each year, Lions collect about 30 million pairs of glasses. Clubs in Australia and Japan annually send 500,000 pairs of glasses to six recycling centers in Australia. Over the past decade, more than 3.5 million pairs of eyeglasses from these centers have been shipped to locations including India, the Middle East and tiny islands in Indonesia. By employing people from local correctional facilities, several of the centers are fostering rehabilitation by teaching skills that people can use after they leave prison. The Tokyo Sangenjaya Lions Club partnered with a national retailer to collect glasses for Australia’s recycling centers in 2013. “Seeing Lions work in packaging these eyeglass, I realize how much we consume and throw away that is still in usable or even perfect condition,” says one local businessman. “These eyeglasses will change someone’s life.” “Thank you,” a 94-year-old man in Honduras cried after receiving a pair of Lions recycled glasses. “I can now read my Bible—the first time in 15 years.” For more than 80 years, Lions have been collecting, sorting and cleaning eyeglasses, and distributing them to those in need.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Centennial+Update/2373944/287895/article.html.