Thursday, 17 May 2018 09:47

Swift Current Lions Club project helps to recycle old eyeglasses

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Swift Current Lions Club members stand with a shipment of about 3,300 old eyeglasses, May 7. From left to right, Lions Club President Jim Parsons, directors Dan Weber and Jim Appleyard, and Lions Club Treasurer Larry O'Donnell. Swift Current Lions Club members stand with a shipment of about 3,300 old eyeglasses, May 7. From left to right, Lions Club President Jim Parsons, directors Dan Weber and Jim Appleyard, and Lions Club Treasurer Larry O'Donnell. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

Recycled eyeglasses from the Swift Current area continues to provide the gift of sight to people in poor countries. 

 

 

In early May the Swift Current Lions Club shipped about 3,300 old eyeglasses to an eyeglass recycling centre in Calgary.

“That puts us about 23,000 glasses that we've shipped over the last number of years,” Swift Current Lions Club President Jim Parsons said.

The club started this project about 20 years ago in Swift Current and it has been well supported by area residents.

“We did a house to house blitz a few years back and that really seemed to get it going,” he said. “We gave out little brown paper bags, and we still get some of those bags that people have kept. It's amazing, and we really like to thank the people for their generosity or their thoughtfulness in returning those glasses that aren't going to be used anymore.”

Three optical dispensers in Swift Current – Vision Care, Optical Image and Walmart Vision Centre – are participating in the project. There is also a Lions Club drop box in the Swift Current Mall where people can drop off their used glasses.

“The amazing part of it is the one in the centre court at the mall probably fills once a month,” he said.

Each shipment of eyeglasses is transported to Calgary by Rosenau Transport and Parsons appreciates the company's support for the project.

“Rosenau is excellent,” he noted. “They transport them for us for free of charge. They feel it's a tremendous service and they wanted to be a part of it.”

The Swift Current project is part of a broader Lions Clubs International initiative, called the Lions Recycle for Sight program. After collection the glasses are taken to the nearest Lions eyeglass recycling centre, where it is sorted and the prescription of each pair is determined by a lensometer. The glasses are then cleaned and packaged for distribution to developing countries.

The eyeglasses from the Swift Current area are taken to the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre in Calgary. A partnership with the Calgary Correctional Centre gives an opportunity to offenders to contribute to society through their work to recycle eyewear.

The recycling centre can use any kind of glasses, including safety, sun and prescription glasses. They can be broken or have missing parts. Since 1996 the recycling centre in Calgary has processed over five million pairs of eyeglasses that have been sent to 88 countries. 

The largest portion of recycled eyeglasses (43 per cent) was sent to countries in Africa, followed by countries in Central America (20 per cent), South Asia (18 per cent) and South America (13 per cent).

The recycled eyeglasses will be given to people with vision problems during visits by Canadian optometrists to different developing countries around the world.

“They'll take two, three, four weeks out of their time and they'll go to these countries,” he said. “They'll set up a little shop there and they fit these people. The glasses are all carded. So if they check a person's eyes and they need such and such, they just go through the cards and there's a pair.”

People receive the recycled eyeglasses for free and it can make a real difference to their lives. Improved vision can mean better education for children and for adults an opportunity to be employed.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 150 million people around the world have visual problems as a result of uncorrected refractive errors, which can be addressed through eye examinations and the use of corrective glasses.

The Swift Current Lions Club will continue this project in the Swift Current area and residents are asked to donate their used eyeglasses to this initiative instead of throwing it away.

“When you talk 23,000 pairs of glasses out of this area, we just feel that's tremendous and we sure ask them to continue,” Parsons said.

Read 1008 times Last modified on Thursday, 17 May 2018 12:43
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer