Lions Club prepares to deliver thousands of used eyeglasses

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 06:00 am | BY JOSEPH HO
Noel West/MVP Staff
Noel West/MVP Staff
Sundre High School students Darbie Sadoway, left, and Sandra Block sort through eyeglasses at the Olds Evergreen Centre on Feb. 8. CLICK ON PHOTO FOR LARGER IMAGE
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They came in different types, from all of Canada and soon they’ll be shipped across the world to developing countries. Eyeglasses – thousands of them, collected and processed by about 60 volunteers in Olds on Feb. 8.

Volunteers, young and old, from the Olds Lions Club gathered at the Olds & District Evergreen Centre to clean, inventory and package glasses for delivery. Other Lions Club members from Sundre, Carstairs, Didsbury and Crossfield joined them.

“It feels really good when you do something for the community and you know it affects a very big global aspect,” said Hanna Werezak, a 16-year-old member of the Sundre chapter of the Leos Club, the Lions Club’s youth wing.

Also from the Sundre Leos Club was Julia Helland, 16. Volunteering on a cold Saturday morning gave her the chance to meet other members.

“It’s really cool to come out here and know that you’re making a difference and meet all the people from different Lions Clubs in the area,” she said. “I’ve never met these people that I’m working with before but it’s really great to meet them.”

The Lions Club ships more than 400,000 pairs of used glasses each year, said James Lee, chair of the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre (CLERC). They are dropped off at Lions Club donation bins at various locations, from schools and hospitals, to optical clinics.

While sorting occurs every two weeks at a different club location in district 37-O, a prominent Canadian filmmaker stopped by Olds to document the action.

Rick Castiglione, a veteran broadcast journalist and filmmaker, is shooting a documentary on Canada Vision Care, a non-profit group of eye-care workers.

“As a filmmaker and photographer, I care about eyes. People can’t see my films if they can’t see,” he said when asked what was meaningful to him about vision.

His film will track a pair of glasses from Olds, right to the recipient in the Philippines, which was struck by Typhoon Haiyan late last year.

The documentary, which has yet to be named, will examine the impact the program has on people who can’t afford eyewear.

Castiglione will then return to Olds and show the giver just who benefited from the donation.

This was the first time he has witnessed the sorting process and the spirit of volunteerism impressed him.

“I’m amazed by how many glasses are donated, by how many people would get involved on a cold Saturday in February and come out and just clean and sort and clean and sort,” he said.

“It would seem like such a shame to see these glasses just go into the trash. When you look in these bins and the quality of the glasses that are there, they’re only replaced because they need a new prescription.”

Castiglione’s documentary will air on CTV Edmonton. No date has been set.


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