The next time you visit your optometrist for a new pair of glasses or decide your old frames are outdated, donate your used spectacles to the Lions Club.
The Lions Club is the local volunteer organization that coordinates this effort; they have collected 1,046 pairs since last June.
Approximately 70 people who live in the Rim country benefit from this gift of vision each year, according to George Spears, eyeglass coordinator of the Payson Lions Club. There is a screening process that starts with a written application.
The applications are reviewed by the club and if approved, the applicant is referred to an eye doctor for an exam.
"Both eye doctors in town are very cooperative and that makes it easier on us," Spears said.
Lions are known worldwide for their service to the visually impaired and the blind. Eight years after their inception Hellen Keller challenged the Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness" and they have been answering Keller's call ever since collecting, through countless local efforts, more than 5 million glasses for distribution in developing countries.
The donated eyeglasses journey from their collection boxes in Payson to a facility in Phoenix. There, the glasses are sorted and the lens prescriptions are determined by a lensometer before being cleaned and repackaged for storage until they are requested for an eye mission.
On the first day of such a mission volunteers assist the hundreds of people and children waiting in line for glasses. Recipients are given a simple eye test where they cover one eye with a spoon and read an eye chart. The second test is given with a machine called an autorefractor.
An adult fitted with recycled glasses are given a better opportunity support their families because they can see, and a child could learn to read because of improved sight.
The Payson Lions Club collects eye glasses year-round for the needy. Collection boxes are located at the Senior Center and the Risser-Thomas Eye Clinic both on Main Street, Wal-Mart and Payson Eye Care Center on the Beeline Highway.
Applications for eyeglasses are available at the Department of Economic Security in the Bashas' shopping center.
Lions Clubs are involved in a variety of activities. For more information attend a meeting at noon the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at Tiny's restaurant or visit their website: www.lionsclub.org.