A recurring truth is Lions club international have, and do, improve peoples’ sight, it is one of the four pillars of Lion Club International Foundation. Gillingham, Mere & Shaftesbury Lions Club has participated in SpecTrek for over 25 years, in addition to supporting Lions Clubs International’s SightFirst II Campaign, this year was no exception.
In the UK the SpecTrek Project is run by the regions Lions annually with collection in April by Petersfield Lions club, who travel around the region collecting every Club’s donations at a number of designated pick-up points including a lunchtime stop-over with us in Gillingham.
GMS lions have been collecting steadfastly since last April and managed to collect a staggering 12,443 pairs of used glasses. GMS lions hosted nine other local clubs: Blackmore Vale, Blandford, Bradford on Avon, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury at Gillingham town hall on Sunday 19 April 15 for a buffet lunch and collectively presented 28,260 pairs of used glasses to Petersfield Lions club who move them on to Midhurst Lions in Sussex for processing.
To participate, GMS Lions collect used spectacles from lions-labelled boxes we have placed in local opticians and other stores throughout our area, in addition to those passed on to us by individual members of the public.
Gillingham: Cancer Research; Frith’s Opticians
Mere: Surgery; Post Office; Brainwave Charity Shop
Shaftesbury: Eye Style Centre; Frith’s Opticians; Harold Opticians; Cancer Research shop; British Heart Foundation shop
So what happens to the specs after Midhurst? The Midhurst Lions have a regular sorting and packing session. They go through the specs discarding the junk, breakages etc. Where gold is present in the frames, they arrange for its extraction to raise money for the Southampton Hospital Eye Department.
Midhurst also have a regular cases and sunglasses stall at the local community centre. The repacked specs are passed on to Chichester Lions. Chichester Lions store the packages and twice a year make up a large transit van load and cross the channel to Le Havre.
Here, with the assistance of Le Havre Lions, the specs are taken to a small charity, Medico de France. This body, run by a few nuns and manned by a number of disabled people, then grade the specs and prepare them for the last leg of their journey to sight projects in Africa and Asia. Any money collected en-route or donations received from other clubs, is donated to eye camps in Africa. But when one looks at the outcome it is one of the most rewarding things we do. In these days of green issues the Lions spectacle collection project is more than recycling; it is reuse of a costly asset. We have collected over 2 million pairs of specs over the last 27 years; a significant saving in today’s world. More importantly, the collection brings hope to many families in the developing world who have been blighted by loss of sight.