Lions are especially dedicated to serving the blind and visually impaired, a commitment made after Helen Keller challenged our members to become her “Knights of the Blind in the Crusade against Darkness” during the 1925 convention in Ohio. According to The World Health Organization, 153 million people have uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Most of these vision impairments are quickly diagnosed and easy to treat with corrective lenses.
Still, millions of people in developing nations are pushed deeper into poverty simply because they don't have glasses. They can't learn, because reading is difficult. They can't work to the best of their ability, because they can't see clearly. That is why throughout the year, Lions and other volunteers collect used eyeglasses and deliver them to regional Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERCs). LERC volunteers clean, sort by prescription strength and package the glasses. Most of the recycled glasses are distributed to people in need in developing countries where they will have the greatest impact.
Lions Collection Boxes
You can support the cause by dropping off used eyewear at any of our Lions-sponsored collection boxes throughout the community.
- Black Bear Diner
The Porterville Breakfast Lions have not only participated in the collection efforts of eyewear but have also teamed with local optometrists to help those struggling in our own community get the eye care and glasses that they might not be able to afford otherwise. Since making the financial commitment to provide assistance in 2006, the club has helped almost 150 individuals get the medical care and attention that truly changes lives.
Read a story of success!
A Whole New World
History of White Cane Day
In 1921, James Biggs, a photographer from Bristol, England, became blind following an accident. Because he was feeling uncomfortable with the amount of traffic around his home, he painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible.
In 1930, the late George A. Bonham, President of the Peoria Lions Club (Illinois) introduced the idea of using the white cane with a red band as a means of assisting the blind in independent mobility. The Peoria Lions approved the idea, white canes were made and distributed, and the Peoria City Council adopted an ordinance giving the bearers the right-of way to cross the street. News of the club’s activity spread quickly to other Lions clubs throughout the United States, and their visually handicapped friends experimented with the white canes. Overwhelming acceptance of the white cane idea by the blind and sighted alike quickly gave cane users a unique method of identifying their special need for travel consideration among their sighted counterparts.
Also in 1931, in France, Guilly d’Herbemont recognized the danger to blind people in traffic and launched a national “white stick movement” for blind people. She donated 5,000 white canes to people in Paris.
Today white cane laws are on the books of every state in the US and many other countries, providing blind persons a legal status in traffic. The white cane now universally acknowledges that the bearer is blind. For specific information contact your local government office for motor vehicles.
White Cane Safety Days
To make the American people more fully aware of the meaning of the white cane and of the need for motorists to exercise special care for the blind person who carries it, on October 6, 1964, the U.S. Congress approved a resolution authorizing the President of the US to annually issue a proclamation designating October 15th as “National White Cane Safety Day.”
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), a leading organization for the blind, has established the third week in May as “White Cane Week.” During this week, a special concentration of efforts to educate the public concerning the hopes and aspirations of the blind is emphasized.
In keeping with the Lions’ established tradition of assisting the blind, your Lions club can do much to promote community awareness of the white cane law by seeing that all driver education manuals prominently include the law. Request that local radio, TV and newspaper media periodically feature news of the law’s existence and its wording in detail. Contact offices of local government officials to request a proclamation. In the United States, the President’s annual White Cane Safety Day proclamation may be found on the White House web site www.whitehouse.gov (news; proclamations).