The Jekyll Island Lions Club has a long tradition of collecting and recycling used eyeglasses. For many years, an old postal mailbox was used as a drop off point. The box, obtained from the Post Office, was painted with the Lions Clubs International logo and stood outside awaiting eyeglass deposits. Jekyll Island is in the Atlantic Ocean, though, and over time the salt air caused the mailbox to rust into uselessness. The Club then turned to cardboard collection boxes instead and several local retailers offered to host them.
Almost every Tuesday, a club member makes the run to check the boxes for donated eyeglasses. All kinds are accepted: prescription, readers, and sunglasses. The boxes are located at the Jekyll Island Campground, Jekyll Books, The Jekyll Market, Judy Kay’s Beauty Salon, Ameris Bank, and the Quality Inn. The circuit usually takes an hour to complete, more or less, depending on the amount of neighborly chatting that accompanies each box check. The number of eyeglasses collected from each location is recorded and then entered into an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet keeps track of the most productive locations and the total number of eyeglasses the club has turned over to the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation for recycling.
Another club member goes off the island every few months to collect eyeglasses from other sources, mainly eyeglass retailers and doctor’s offices. Often, these eyeglasses and frames are new. The club does not keep track of these donations at the present time, but they are also turned over to the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation.
The Foundation’s Recycling Center is located in Chamblee, Georgia. There, all the donated eyeglasses are cleaned, sorted, and the prescriptions are read. By law, the Foundation cannot dispense used prescription eyeglasses in the United States; American patients always receive brand new eyeglasses. Used prescription eyeglasses in good condition are instead sent overseas with mission trips. However, used readers in good condition and non-prescription sunglasses can be provided to Georgians who need them. Scratched and broken eyeglasses are accepted and used in an annual fundraiser. Nothing goes to waste!
Check those drawers for old eyeglasses, donate them, and help provide the gift of sight!