Marana business owner Erik Johnson gave his staff a choice this Christmas to either have a holiday party or paid hours to help sort used eyeglasses at the Arizona Lions Eyeglass Recycling Terminal (ALERT).

“There was no contest - the volunteer option won hands down,” Johnson said.

On Dec. 16, Johnson shut off the phones at Continental Computer Services and took the staff to work at the ALERT sorting at the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired on Grant Road in Tucson.

They even showed up with a plate of holiday cookies as a gift to the 18 volunteers assembled there.

A Lion himself, Johnson selected the eyeglass recycling effort for the Continental Computer Services volunteer project for a number of reasons.

“My grandmother was blind so I feel good helping others to see.  But beyond that, sorting glasses is easy - no learning curve,” he said. “It was something I knew our employees would have fun doing. And they can see right away that they are really doing some good for a lot of people.”

During the monthly sorting projects, Lions and friends wash, sort and process used eyeglasses for re-use in developing countries.

Since September 2005, ALERT has sent nearly 300,000 pairs of eyeglasses to places like Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Ghana, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.

The Arizona eyeglass project is one of 17 official Lions eyeglass recycling centers around the country.

Used eyeglasses can be donated to the project at Lions collection boxes in many optometrist’s offices, at Safeway stores and at Wal-Mart.

A more complete list of drop off sites in the area is at www.tucsondowntownlions.org.

In Arizona, Lions screen the vision of thousands of school children each year, buy eye exams and glasses for those in need, and help their communities in countless other ways with projects selected by that particular club.

In Marana, two fledgling Lions clubs plan to bring Lions services to our community. You can be in on the ground floor, helping to get these clubs started and selecting signature projects.

For information about how you might become a Marana Lion, contact Eldon Fernandes at 650-454-6206, Rich Singervalt at 572-8383 or Karen Sell at 743-0785.

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