Community gathers old eye glasses for those in need

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The Lions Club of Essex Junction prides itself on community involvement, which spans seven decades. While the group is know for raising money, and collecting food for those in need. You may not know about a certain collection of eye glasses.

“One of the things the Lions Club does, is the money that we raise goes to back out to the community,” said Dianne Brochu. Brochu is the president of the Essex Junction chapter of the Lions Club. She tells us, she joined because she wanted to be able to give back to her community.

Including the collection of used eye glasses she says. “It’s expensive, even the eye exams are expensive. All, and all, we help with all of it.”

A cause we are told that started because of a speech in 1925, when Helen Heller challenged the Lions Club International to advocate for the visually impaired. 

“We have collected over 11,000 to date,” according to Beth Abustan, the Chair of Recycling for the Essex Junction Lions Club. Not matter the condition, Beth tells us they will take it. “We even take broken glasses, we will take children’s glasses, older glasses, reading glasses. All of it gets used.”

After the glasses are collected, they are driven to New Jersey where the glasses are cleaned and packaged. All done by Lions Club members.

Here at home, they are working on preventing eye ailments. By offering free and confidential eye exams to school children.

“We are now at 4,000 student that have been screened. How it works, we check with the school nurse, and set up a time to go to the school,” said Betsy Magee. Magee now the secretary for the Essex Junction club, but formally the District Governor for District 45 (the entire state of Vermont).

To date, ten percent of those examined received a referral to see an eye doctor. “There are so many eye aliments, that the have found in students. If the child’s aliment is not caught at an early age, what can happen is can lead to blindness, or serious eye problems,” said Magee.

The devices don’t come cheep either, nearly $10,000 a piece. Which was all raised, from the local community.

If you have old eye glasses laying around, don’t let them collect dust. Recycle them, you can find a donation box at the Brownell Library on Lincoln Street.

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