Lions members around the world are known for their work to improve the lives of the visually impaired and help prevent avoidable blindness.
The Prescott Valley Early Bird Lions Club continues the cause and every year helps children and adults with free eye exams and eyeglasses.
It all began nearly 100 years ago when Helen Keller challenged a group of men at the Lion’s Club International Convention to imagine being blind.
Keller’s goal was to raise money for the newly formed American Foundation of the Blind. She stood before the Lions members and told her story about living with blindness. She pleaded with the members to help the sight impaired see the light.
According to the Foundation archives, Keller said the following: “I appeal to you, Lions – you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind – will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in my crusade against darkness?”
Since that day, the main goal of Lions Club International has been to fight blindness.
Clubs around the world sponsor free eye screening programs through mobile clinics. The clubs also pay for cataract surgeries.
Used Eyeglass Donations Help Our Community
According to PVEB Lion John Agan, his club has donated more than $83,000 in free eye exams and glasses for the working poor in Prescott Valley and the surrounding area. The club helps close to 100 individuals every year.
“We do require a $10 co-pay. It’s enough to give a bit of responsibility on the people,” Agan explained.
Used eyeglass collection boxes are set up all over town for anyone wanting to donate their old glasses.
“We collect them once a month. We run down to the Lions Club Eye Center in Phoenix,” Agan said.
Once the eye center receives the used glasses, volunteers sort and record every pair and then box them up for delivery to those in need – including other countries where eyeglasses are not available.
In 1990, Lions Clubs launched SightFirst, its biggest sight preservation campaign. To date, this campaign has raised $346 million to pay for cataract surgeries, expand eye hospitals and clinics, distribute sight-saving medication and train eye care professionals across the world.
Tree Sales Fund the Program
Every penny collected from the PVEB club’s annual Christmas tree sales lot goes back into the community and proceeds fund the eyeglass and eye exam program.
The average amount collected from the Christmas Tree sales in Prescott Valley is around $8,000 and totals from the past decade have provided $89,000 worth of eye exams and glasses.
Annual Christmas Tree Sale Lot Will Be Open
The PVEB Lion’s Christmas Tree lot will be open this year beginning on Saturday, November 28 at the Findley Event Center on the corner of Florentine and Glassford Hill Road. For more information visit www.prescottvalleylions.org.