The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) administers the Lions Eyeglasses Recycling Program (LERC) for the State of Oregon. OLSHF manages one of 18 LERCs worldwide. Over 75,000 eyeglasses are collected every year from communities across the state, mostly thanks to the efforts of Lions Clubs who collect the eyeglasses. This story illustrates how the simple act of collecting a used pair of glasses can impact a person on the other side of the globe.
The Lions Clubs set up drop boxes (provided by OLSHF) throughout their communities. Each Lions Club is responsible for transporting the collected eyeglasses to OLSHF’s warehouse in Portland. Other service organizations, such as the Elks, Kiwanis, Northwest Medical Teams and Boy Scouts of America partner with us by giving the Lions eyeglasses that they have collected.
We encourage all Lions to pre-sort their collected eyeglasses by removing any cases or loose lenses. Eyeglass Sorting Parties are scheduled every month at the warehouse in partnership with Central City Concern’s volunteer program.
Once the glasses are sorted and packed, Lions drive the boxes to the next step…
Since 2002, OLSHF has partnered with Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) in Wilsonville to process eyeglasses. At CCCF, 30 women inmates (who have been accepted into the Paraoptometric Training and Eyeglass Recycling Program) clean, calibrate and sort the eyeglasses for mission trips. Several graduates have secured work in optical careers after their release.
International nonprofits request inventories of calibrated “mission ready” eyeglasses from our warehouse for their trips. Through our office in Portland, we issue vouchers which enable us to monitor the number of eyeglasses distributed.
Our partners include: Oregon Lions Clubs, Peruvian Lions Clubs, Lions Mexico Vision and Health Care Clinic, Lions in Sight, FACES Foundation, Northwest Medical Teams, Mercy Ships, Sea Mercy, Mercy Corps, Hope Alliance, VOSH and the AMIGOS.
Countries that have benefited from eyeglass distribution include: Tongo, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Solomon Islands, West Samoa, El Salvador, Peru, and Kenya.
OLSHF appreciates the continued, dedicated efforts of the Lions of Oregon and all of the partnering organizations. Working together we collect used eyeglasses for missions that will help more individuals in developing countries around the world see more clearly.
For more information about the LERC, please contact Kelly Asbra, Optical Program Director, at (503) 413-7399.