Merrilynn Kessler 2017-09-13 05:21:28
Chain of Goodwill Ends with Good Vision My ritual on the first and third Tuesday of every month is to drive seven miles to the Grove Family Library in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I make sure I have “the Key,” brass with an oval top. Without exaggeration, it’s the key to a better life for thousands. From my SUV I unload a large cloth tote, a half dozen plastic grocery bags and a padded mailing envelope. I’m 74, so it’s a handful. But I walk a few steps to a large, retired USPS mailbox that has been painted yellow. For more than a decade it has served as one of the collection boxes for eyeglasses and hearing aids for the Chambersburg Evening Lions Club. “I make sure I have ‘the Key,’ brass with an oval top. Without exaggeration, it’s the key to a better life for thousands.” I personally witnessed how important these eyeglasses are. A decade ago I went on a Lions’ vision mission to Belize. I will always remember two Belizeans. Alphonso, 87, thanked me for the glasses and told me to tell my district, “God bless you, Lions.” A fearful young woman, confident in her new glasses, confessed, “I wanted to come early this morning, but no one would come with me. So I gathered all my courage because I knew you Lions could help me.” My club began its recycling program in 1996. Since then, we’ve recycled 77,395 eyeglasses. We’ve helped people read the newspaper and Bible, prepare meals, use a computer or cash register, knit a baby blanket, drive an automobile, play music, vote and see their loved ones. Reading and eyeglasses are particularly important to me. I was a librarian before retiring. In 2016 I became my club’s Eyeglasses Recycling Coordinator. I was fortunate to tour the New Jersey Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center to see how vast Lions’ recycling efforts are. The collection box is not the only evidence of Lions at the library. My club helped plant the trees and shrubs there when it was built in 2006. Every time I come I enjoy noticing the trees’ growth. Placing the padded mailer on the sidewalk as cushioning, I kneel down to unlock the knee-high door, wondering what treasures await. I extend my arms into the box, and my fingers dust the corners for errant spectacles. Library patrons pass me and say hello. My positioning is kind of comical. I often wonder if I remind them of Gretel at the Witch’s cottage: “Climb into the oven, my dear, and see if it is hot enough.” I stuff the tote and the grocery bags with the contents. First I may have to go inside and return an armload of now-overdue children’s library books placed by mistake in the box. In a spare room at home, I open all the hard and soft cases. I count and sort the plastic frames, metal frames, readers and sunglasses. The cases sometimes contain surprises such as jelly beans, Bible verses, phone numbers, rosaries and even $5 or $10 bills folded many times to miniature sizes. Or the cases had been put to use as a sewing or hygiene case, first aid or teeth cleaning kit, or coin keeper. The glasses come in many styles: square, round, butterfly, octagon, oval, cats-eye, aviator, half-frame and more. There are small glasses from schoolchildren, men’s thick trifocals, dainty women’s glasses, safety shop glasses and glasses probably from great aunts and grandmothers that still have a faint aura of rich powders and perfumes. How fortunate we are to live in a society with such material abundance. Donors often exercise great care. They wrap their eyeglasses in paper towels or tissue paper or place them in sealed baggies. Some are quite new or barely worn. Others are aged and dusty. It’s not hard to imagine the progression of their usefulness. The owner relied on them for so much, and then one day decided to replace them. But they realized it was wasteful to throw them out. Don’t Lions help people see and isn’t there a collection box at the library? So twice monthly, thanks to their generosity and my club, I’m the one who takes what they give and hurry along the glasses to others who need them.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/My+Roar/2881183/437740/article.html.