Each year, hundreds of pairs of used eyeglasses are collected by the Cochrane Lions Club.

So, what exactly happens to them?

Once collected, they are delivered to the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre (CLERC) in Calgary, where eyeglasses arrive from across the country for distribution across the globe. The glasses are provided free of charge to missions, and the recipients only have to cover shipping costs.

CLERC began in 1986, and as of last June, 5,793,073 eyeglasses had been provided to people in over 100 countries.

When glasses arrive at the centre, they are thoroughly cleaned in a heated unit and dried by hand. After the prescription is read, the glasses are packaged, labeled, sorted, and are ready to ship.

No matter their condition, all glasses are welcomed, because nothing goes to waste. The lenses, for example, are sold to a recycling company that crushes them for use in highway construction as an aggregate substitute for asphalt paving.

CLERC also accepts sunglasses, readers, eyeglass repair kits, and glass straps to distribute.

Volunteers are at the heart of CLERC, and they have now been able to resume work parties every Wednesday and the occasional Saturday.

The Cochrane Lions Club annually sends a work party to the centre (except during the pandemic) to help, along with those from other clubs in the district. It also makes an annual financial contribution and recently provided $1,000.

Jim Thorne, past president and the club's current secretary, was among the club members participating in this year's work bee.

"We make a financial contribution every year, and we pick a day every year when as many members as possible come out and help process the glasses," says Thorne. "We're proud to be part of it."

For years, Norm Lee has stepped forward to help when called upon because he knows the glasses go to good use.

This year, though, holds a special meaning to him.

"My son's in Ukraine right now, taking pictures for Global television. He tells me all about the things that are breaking his heart. If I can sort glasses and help people like that, I will."

Drop-off boxes are located across town. They can be found at Bethany Cochrane, Cochrane Eye Care Centre, Cochrane Family Vision, Grand Avenue Village, Iris Eye Centre, Mountain View Optometry, River Heights Eye Care, Safeway at customer service, St. Andrew's United Church, and Two Pharmacy.

More information on this and other service projects of the Cochrane Lions Club can be found here.


CLERC donationBesides volunteering to work at CLERC, the Cochrane Lions Club typically makes an annual donation. This year they donated $1,000. From left, CLERC chair Jim Lee, Glenn Garalde, 2nd vice-district governor, and Cochrane Lions members Norm Lee, Jim Thorne, and Keith Garner.