OCOEE, Fla. – Volunteers with Lions Club International, who call themselves The Knights of the Blind, spend hours sifting through tens of thousands of pairs of recycled eye glasses so they can be donated to those in need.
If you've been to the optometrist or eyeglasses store, you may have noticed a box in the waiting room where you can deposit and recycle your old glasses.
Turns out, the first stop for those donated glasses is a warehouse in Ocoee, where three or four times a year, Lions Club International volunteers inspect, sort and clean tens of thousands of glasses gathered from around the state.
Bobbie Cheh and a few other members of the Ormond By The Sea Lions Club traveled here to help with the project.
"It's a lot of glasses. Last time we did this we sorted 33,000 pairs," Cheh said, as she studied the used glasses for scratches and broken parts. On the table in front of her is a mound of glasses in every size, shape and color.
For the next three hours, about 40 club members from across Central Florida will try to put a dent in the towering stack of boxes filled with donations.
"It's quite a process but you feel good after doing it because you know you're doing something good for somebody," Cheh said.
The Project Right to Sight program provides the glasses locally to those who can't afford new glasses. Many more will end up in the hands of people around the globe as missionaries take the glasses with them to help the visually impaired in developing countries.
Steven Van Varick, incoming president of Project Right To Sight, said the monthly clinic, held in partnership with Orange County, provides free glasses to those in need. The nonprofit has tens of thousands of glasses stocked for nearly every prescription combination.
Cheh said projects like this are only part of what the Ormond By The Sea Lions Club does. She said the group has service projects more than once a week.
The day before, members were at the Conklin Center for the Blind in Daytona Beach, where they helped the school with its annual alumni party.
Cheh and Van Varick said the Lions Club is always looking for new members. If you would like more information about clubs in Central Florida, visit the District 35-0 webpage.