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Wildcats assist with Lions glasses collection goal
HG Lions 9942 WEB
Crystal Riniker, president of the Hazel Green Lions Club, and Tammy Rockenbach, global membership team member for the Lions Club, pictured front and center, pose with the Southwestern Elementary School on May 3 during the last stop for eyeglass collection before the state convention. Below, the Lions Club shows students how to sort glasses. - photo by Dena Harris

HAZEL GREEN—A group of Lions Club members from throughout the area gathered in Hazel Green on May 3 to collect and sort eyeglasses for a statewide contest.

The Lions Club has been gathering used eyeglasses for its sight program since the organization was founded in 1917. The group funds, facilitates and promotes programs that prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eye health and eye care for people worldwide. The glasses collected will be repaired and sorted by prescription at prisons throughout the United States, then will be sent with mission groups to third world countries. The glasses cannot be used in the United States due to national restrictions.

As part of the Lions Club’s centennial celebration, the organization was challenged to collect eyeglasses to serve 100 million people.

“We met that goal in September,” Tammy Rockenbach, global membership team member and centennial coordinator for District 27D1 in Wisconsin, said.

The goal was to increase to 250 million and, as of the end of March, the group had collected 191 million. As a final effort to reach the new goal, a collection tour was created, with its last stop in Hazel Green on May 3.

Rockenbach said the district with the most glasses collected by the state convention in La Crosse last weekend would be rewarded with a party. By the end of March, the local district had already collected 52,000 eyeglasses.

Lions Club members from Cross Plains, Albany, Mount Horeb, Hazel Green and Lancaster attended the collection and sorting event at the Southwestern Elementary School. The group had stopped in Madison earlier in the day and sorted boxes of glasses collected there. They would determine if the glasses had a prescription and toss any that were broken or unusable. The group also collects sunglasses, both with and without prescriptions.

“People in countries near the equator really appreciate the sunglasses we give them,” Neil Winchell, member of the Hazel Green Lions Club, said.

Rockenbach said the Lions Club is always looking for children’s sizes.

After the glasses are sorted, they are counted and stored in boxes of 300.

Southwestern Elementary students helped sort and count the glasses that were collected at the school.

“This is a year-long effort,” Crystal Riniker, president of the Hazel Green Lions Club, said. “We are doing this extra push for eyeglasses now, but we collect them all year long.”

There are more than 200 collection sites in the district. In Hazel Green, you can drop your unwanted glasses at American Bank or the schools.

The Lions Club also assists with vision screenings.

“If we’re able to find vision problems early, it can affect a child’s development,” Rockenbach said. “Imagine trying to do your homework and all of the words blur together.”