The Franklin Lions Club is continuing it’s annual mission to give children the gift of sight.
Club members set up their eyeglasses trees at the Johnson County Courthouse and the West Annex last week. An initial glance at the trees might give a passerby some Christmas spirit, but a closer look reveals a box, with the words “Donate Your Used Eyeglasses” and “Lions Recycle For Sight.”
The annual effort brings in between 250 and 400 pairs of glasses. Although the glasses are collected year-round, the Lions Club steps its efforts up during the holiday season. Per tradition, most of the glasses from the local efforts go to children in Mexico City, with others going to low-income children in Johnson County, said Teresa Pursifull, Franklin Lions Club member.
The club also partners with Frechette Eye Center to make the annual effort possible locally.
“If there are needy families in elementary schools, they can send their child here and we’ll do the exams and glasses for them too,” Pursifull said.
Lions Club International delivers glasses to people in need all over the world. The mission strives to connect some of the 1.1 billion people around the world who have near-vision impairment simply because they don’t have a pair of glasses with glasses that can give them a new view of life, according to the organization’s website.
Pursifull, club treasurer Beverly Thorpe and club president Paul Cote, put up the two Christmas trees last week. The visibility of the trees in government buildings are hoped to boost the collection, she said.
“At Christmastime, we make it a bigger deal because people are cleaning things out and it’s noticeable if people are coming through the courthouse and see Christmas trees with eyeglasses all over it. People say ‘what’s going on here?’ It’s a good idea and we collect a lot more that way, too,” Pursifull said. “We accept reading glasses, sunglasses, anything that will help, whether it’s prescription bifocals, progressive, single vision, anything that will help a child start somewhere when a lot of people can’t see and don’t have the resources we do.”
The average pair of glasses, including prescription lenses, costs about $351 without insurance, according to VSP Vision Care. The eyeglass tree donations through Lions Club will make a significant difference for families in need, Thorpe said.
“It certainly helps the needy,” she said. “Glasses are so expensive, so it will help a lot of people and certainly those people who can’t afford them. Our mission trips are certainly very important. Some people make it a regular trip they pay for themselves. They’re not reimbursed, but a lot of generous people give up their time.”
While none of the local club members will be making the trip to Mexico, the glasses collected from the two trees, as well as boxes previously set up at the Lions Club, Johnson Memorial Health and Franklin Parks and Recreation, will be. Collections will continue with the trees being left up until the first week of January, Pursifull said.
Johnson County residents often are in the giving spirit during the holidays, Cote said.
“Folks have been extremely generous, they got their old glasses and they bring them over,” Cote said. “We take anything, we even take store-bought readers. We leave it up until just after New Year’s and have our people send them to the district office in Indianapolis and they handle the rest. They take them out and clean them and repair them.”