Fourteen volunteers from the Lynnwood Kiwanis Club gathered at College Place Optical in Edmonds recently to clean, repair and repackage 825 pairs of eyeglasses that will be sent around the world to help people in need.
The volunteer group was joined by two members of the Mountlake Terrace High School Key Club, the Kiwanis junior organization.
“As an optician, I want everybody to see the best possible they can in the world,” said Ron Swengel, who along with wife Billie owns College Place Optical. The Swengels are also both Lynnwood Kiwanis members. “It’s what I do, and it’s one way to take something that would be thrown away and take it to support somebody else.”
The Swengels dream of someday taking part in a volunteer trip overseas to help others with free eye care, and they are inspired by stories from colleagues who have done so.
“People walk for a day to get to a certain village because they’ve heard health care is there,” Ron Swengel said, recalling a story from Central America where a woman started crying after being fitted for glasses. After a translator came over, she raised her hand and pointed across the room and said, “I can see my daughter.”
“She’d gone 40 years not being able to see more than three feet in front of her,” he said.
The glasses were collected throughout the year and will mostly be sent to the Eyecare Wecare Foundation, which provides free eyecare and eyeglasses in the Philippines. Some may also be sent to Mexico and Africa. According to the Pacific Northwest Kiwanis Foundation’s website, more than 540,000 pairs of glasses have been sent to the developing world since 1995, when the program was started.
Glasses can be donated at College Place Optical at 8325 212th St. S.W., No. 104 in Edmonds, or at the Lynnwood Fire Station at 18800 44th Ave. W.
The Lynnwood Kiwanis Club meets at the Lynnwood Fire Station at 7 a.m. Thursdays, and always welcomes new members of the community. The club’s other activities include feeding the children at Casino Road Ministries in Everett, providing scholarships for Edmonds School District students, holding canned food drives and supporting the Relay for Life Cancer Walk. Club members will soon be restoring the trail behind the Lynnwood Fire Station and recently donated $2,000 to Clothes for Kids.
For more information, visit www.lynnwoodkiwanis.portalbuzz.com.