UPMC, Pitt Partner with Lions to Help Needy

By: Kelly Flanigan

When it’s time to get a new pair of eyeglasses, what happens to your old ones? Many glasses sit around the house collecting dust because the old prescriptions are no longer valid, styles are outdated, or arms, rims and lenses are broken and scratched.
In an effort to eliminate this wastefulness, the UPMC Physician Services Green Team, Lions Club of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Lions have joined forces. Jake Voelker, Shane Brennan and Kelly Wilson of UPMC’s Physician Services division spearheaded the initiative and placed recyclable boxes at more than 60 UPMC hospitals, doctor’s offices and Urgent Care Centers throughout downtown Pittsburgh as well as in the North and South Hills. The group hopes to expand that number to 200 medical facilities before the campaign is completed.
Pittsburgh Lions Club President Dan Hupp says the overall objective is to eliminate blindness and improve overall ocular health of those less fortunate overseas. To date, the group has collected 1,200 glasses for distribution around the world and the glasses collected in this newest effort will most likely go to the needy people of Honduras. 
The donated glasses must be cleaned, labeled with prescriptions and distributed. Lensometer machines have been donated to the group to help.
Currently, there are 12 eyeglass recycling centers in the U.S. The closest distribution centers are located in New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia. Ultimately, Lions Club International aims to have recycling centers in every state in the country and around the world.
For this reason, the Lions Club of Pittsburgh is in the process of acquiring its own distribution center. This would give the group the ability to more quickly and efficiently sort, label and process the glasses for distribution to the visually impaired around the globe.
For now, college volunteers will lead the charge. The fall project of the 42 members of the Pitt Lions Club will be to sort and distribute the eyeglasses. For more information or to volunteer, contact upittlions@gmail.com.