Owen’s List members set a new record by donating 577 pairs of eyeglasses! Glasses nearly filled an entire car and were a good mix of styles and formats.
We knew that many of these would be donated to people throughout the world who cannot afford them, while others would be recycled. What we didn’t know was how this worked until we dropped off the collection at the NW Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center near Olympia.
Don Schmidt, one of many volunteers at this organization, gave us a tour and we came away impressed. The first step in LERC’s process is to sort the glasses they receive. People from all over the state donate to LERC and they had many boxes beyond ours ready to go through their process.
After sorting, they need to clean the glasses. We were surprised to learn that this happens by putting glasses through several commercial dishwashers!
Trained volunteers inspect the cleaned glasses more closely to make sure they work. Technology plays a role too as they showed us a machine that can determine the prescription of each pair. Here is Don getting back the results on a pair:
Once glasses have been tagged with the prescription, they are bagged up and labeled so recipients receive the type they need. Bags are grouped together and then boxed up where they are ready to be shipped.
These boxes are then sent to people in developing countries who have requested them. We saw an order form that listed requests from far off places like Nigeria, Nepal, Haiti, Bolivia, and the Marshall Islands. Most were international, though there were a few domestic organizations as well.
Drives like this where we can see what happens to products we give are some of our favorites. The NW Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center started in 2004 and has collected 2.2 million pairs since then. Not all meet their standards for donating but we were pleased to learn that any glasses not donated get recycled. Gold and other metals are found in glasses and by recycling these materials, the organization can fund its operations.
Thank you to everyone who donated this time. If we missed you or you have other glasses in the future you’d like to give up, be sure to follow along as we are certain to repeat this category again!