In 1926, Helen Keller attended the Lions Club International Convention and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness”.
She had been blind and deaf since she was 18 months old, and as an adult had become a tireless advocate for people with disabilities.
Our local Lions are certainly doing their bit to honour her plea.
In fact, Lions around the world have been collecting and re-distributing canes and glasses, and funding cataract operations for those who cannot afford them.
New Zealand Optometrists have generously travelled to the Pacific Islands and to Asia to freely donate their skills.
Under the watchful eye of Andy Andrews, Eyeglass/Spectacle Collection Project Co-ordinator for the South Island, the three Cromwell Lions Clubs have recently taken over from Christchurch-based Ferrymead Lions Club in the recycling of used eyeglasses within the South Island, for distribution to people in need.
Co-ordinator Andy has great help from teams who meet regularly to prepare the hundreds of donated glasses.
It is a huge job, and Andy is grateful to have the support of each of the three Cromwell branches – Cromwell Lions (men), Cromwell-Lake Dunstan Lions Club (women) and Branch Club Lions Club for senior members.
Project convenor Elaine Connelly ensures that the glasses are inspected and cleaned.
Then, with special equipment, the magnification and astigmatism tolerances are verified and printed.
Each pair is bagged separately with its own printout, and then collectively bagged into bundles of the same magnifications.
There are strict guidelines to ensure accuracy before the bundles are boxed for shipment to their new owners.
They currently have a target of 500 pairs to be shipped to Tonga in September this year.
Andy says he is also grateful to the local Rotary Club, and various other community organisations who help with this humanitarian cause.
Jackie Hamilton, of Cromwell Pharmacy supports, too, by allowing locals to drop their donated glasses at the pharmacy.
Anyone who wishes to donate their used glasses, including reading glasses and sunglasses, with or without prescriptions, can do so by taking them to the Cromwell Pharmacy in the Mall.