BRAWLEY — On Saturday, local Walmart parking lots in the Valley were filled with Lions Club members as they served shifts collecting eyeglasses and hearing aids to further the club’s mission of helping those in need. Moving their portable trailer to each location throughout the day, the group began in Calexico in the morning, moved to El Centro at mid-day, and ended the day in Brawley.
The Lions Club is celebrating 100 years since its inception worldwide by collecting previously owned glasses to give to those without. Typically, the club has donation boxes set up at Johnny’s Burritos stores across the Valley, but for their special centennial celebration, they decided to bring their “trailer clinic” to the Walmart parking lots. The goal for the day was to help the community and raise awareness for their cause. In general, they strive to collect as many donated glasses as they can, and give them locally to those without the means to procure their own eyeglasses and hearing aids.
Once the eyeglasses are collected and the prescriptions identified, they are immediately available to anyone in need. Should the donated glasses need repairs, they are sent to Northern California for restoration, and then sent back down to the Imperial Valley.
“We try to keep everything local,” Larry Hudson, president of the Imperial Lions Club explained. For those whose vision is not well and do not have access to a prescription, the Lions Club personally takes them to Costco for an exam and then to a local Walmart Vision Center to purchase the frames.
The need in the community is great, predominately among young children and senior citizens. Currently, the club is working on a program that uses a cutting-edge spot machine to streamline the exam process. It will be able to pinpoint seven key problems in a child’s eye with just one click. Once this is in place, the club hopes to screen every child in the Imperial Valley using this system.
“We want to make them feel better,” Hudson stated. “This is not about ourselves. Glasses help with sports, reading, homework, self-esteem, and everyday life.”
Hudson’s favorite memory in providing glasses to those in need thus far has been placing a pair on an 80-year-old lady, who thanked him in tears, stating that she would be able to read her Bible again. “That right there makes it all worth it,” Hudson said.
Belen Telford, the region chair of the Imperial Valley Lions Club agreed, stating, “This is about helping them feel good.”
In keeping with their motto, “We Serve,” the club seeks to serve the local community in any way possible. They do more than just provide glasses, hearing aids, and fundraising to help the community – they also provide emergency relief in special situations, and scholarships through a student speech contest. The best part is all of their services are completely free.
To learn more about the Lions Club, go to www.eclubhouse.org/sites/imperial.