The Chestertown Lions Club has recently recycled a former US postal box as a very visible drop-off point for used eyeglass donations. Located on Cross St between the Chestertown Chamber of Commerce and the Town offices, the brightly painted purple box is available anytime for donations. Donated eye glasses are recycled and distributed to the needy in less developed countries (US law forbids giving used glasses).
Usable Glasses do make a difference. Lions and Leos help to conserve sight by providing usable eyeglasses to children and adults throughout the world. Why Recycle Glasses? According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 120 million people are visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors (far and near sightedness). The lack of eyeglasses denies children and adults opportunities for education, employment and a better quality of life.
The Journey of Recycled Glasses: Lions collect used eyeglasses at various community locations. The glasses are shipped to the nearest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center where trained volunteers sort, clean and determine the prescription strengths of the glasses. Volunteers at the recycling center carefully package the prepared glasses and store them until they are required for eyeglass-dispensing missions. Glasses that are not suitable for reuse are recycled for scrap, helping minimize landfill waste by supporting precious metal reclamation and scrap processing, with any earnings benefitting local Lions and Leos projects. At the mission site, eye care professionals and trained Lion and Leo volunteers perform vision screenings and dispense the appropriate recycled glasses–free of charge–to children and adults in need.
Chestertown Lions Club member Mike Gallagher found the box and coordinated the refurbishment. Recalls Mike, “On my way to Wilmington one day I spotted the mailbox– in need of some TLC– on DuPont Hwy in front of an old machine shop – I knocked and inquired. The man asked what my intentions for the mailbox were … I explained it was for The Lions Club, to which he responded ‘awesome take it!’. He even helped load and strap it down. His eagerness was based on how his local Lions Club helped him achieve his Eagle Club status. Mike took it to Blackdog Sandblasting and Zierfuss painting company and they performed all the work and provided the labor for free. Todd of Todd’s Bodyshop Chestertown fixed a leg and performed some additional body work.
Vision assistance is one of the key programs of the International Lions Clubs, and the Chestertown branch is involved in that regard by subsidizing eyeglass purchases for local individuals needing financial help and providing free rides to eye doctors’ appointments for those with no transportation or ability to drive. They also contributed an eye screening device for Kent County elementary school children for eyesight problems.
The Club also gives financial contributions to the Lions Leader Dog Program, Johns Hopkins vision research, and two years ago they purchased a Bioptic Telescope for one severely vision-impaired school teacher in Kent County.
Additional eyeglass donation boxes are in the following locations:
Redner’s Food Market
Shore United Bank
St. Paul’s Church hall
Seidenberg Protzko Eye Associates
Dependable Eye Care
Chestertown Yacht Club
U of MD Shore Medical Center Chestertown
Kent County Public Library Chestertown
Women in Need resale store