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Donated glasses make their way to Panama

Loomis Lions Club's red mailbox collects hundreds of eyeglasses
By: Jack Morris, Special to the Loomis News
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Loomis Lions Club members and the community they serve have another reason to celebrate. The eyeglasses they dropped into the little red mailbox in front of Raley’s Supermarket in Loomis are now being worn by residents of a small town in the Republic of Panama. On Jan. 17, the 600 eyeglasses were delivered to Buena Vista, a rural and very poor area of Panama’s Colon Province, by members of the Sabanitas Lions Club. This one-day mission was organized by the Lions Clubs and coordinated by the director of the local school. In Loomis, the converted mailbox with the welded eyeglass ornament on its top is a popular collection point for used eyeglasses and hearing aids. Those who ask how the eyeglasses get from the red container to people outside of the United States should know that the transformation from disposal to delivery is not a short one. Many hands are involved before the eyeglasses are worn a second time. “The Loomis Lions take them from the red box,” said Loomis Lion Henry Schneider, “and carry them to a second collection point where they are boxed and made ready for their cleaning, repair, and evaluation,” said Loomis Lion Henry Schneider. Schneider, who serves as the eyeglass collection chairman for the local club, explained the glasses are then delivered to Folsom Prison. There they go to an inmate-operated workstation called the Folsom Project where the eyeglasses are made ready for shipments around the world. One unique feature of this particular eyeglass delivery was that it was made by cruise ship and traveled from Florida to the entrance of the Panama Canal as part of the luggage of Lions Jack and Freda Morris, of Loomis. On their arrival, the Morrises were met by a large delegation of Lions from several clubs, as well as the ship’s resident chaplain and Holland America’s vessel captain.