Lions Clubs Works to Improve People's Lives
BY BRAD LOGSDON
Special to The Pilot
Lions Clubs are well-known for their work to improve eye care and help the visually impaired, and for the handmade brooms, made by the blind and visually impaired here in North Carolina, that the clubs sell.
But did you also know that the Lions Clubs International Foundation has already mobilized more than $2 million for relief after the Haiti earthquake?
The international foundation and the affiliated group Lions Hope for Haiti are working together, along with individual Lions Clubs the world over, to send cargo containers of supplies, as well as volunteers, to help immediately and to provide relief for years to come.
As after other disasters, Lions will help to rebuild homes and hospitals, redevelop the eye care delivery system, offer human resource support and provide help for the disabled.
The Lions Clubs International Foundation recently received four stars, the highest ranking possible, from Charity Navigator. The independent review evaluated the foundation's accountability, program adaptability and partnerships among 100 international organizations.
The foundation gives every cent of every donated dollar to humanitarian projects. Administrative costs are paid by interest earned on long-term investments.
In addition to supporting the visually impaired, Moore County clubs work with the Sandhills/Moore Coalition for Human Care, Habitat for Humanity, the homeless and diabetes awareness.
"We collect used eyeglasses that are refurbished for distribution in third world countries," says a spokesman. "We help people in need pay for eyeglasses and cataract surgeries. We feed and clothe children in need."
Statewide the North Carolina Lions Foundation owns and operates Camp Dogwood, a camp for the blind in Sherrills Ford, and the 21st Century N.C. Lions Vision Van, which travels the state giving much-needed eye exams to adults and children. Almost 300,000 children and adults have been screened by this program.
North Carolina Lions have established the Wake Forest University Eye Center, the N.C. Lions Pediatric Eye Care Center at Duke University and the N.C. Lions Diabetic Eye Care Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Other statewide vision-related projects include matching funds for local clubs to assist with the cost of eye exams, glasses and eye surgeries; educational grants to children of visually impaired parents; and educational projects that relate the importance, benefit and growing need of organ and tissue donations.
The N.C. Lions Foundation also gives grants to help other organizations with service projects, including the Radio Reading Service of North Carolina; athletic and arts programs at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind and the N.C. Lions Visually Impaired Persons Fishing Tournament, which includes more than 500 visually impaired participants in October each year.
The Lions contribution to disaster relief is not limited to international crises like Haiti.
"In Eastern North Carolina, we received $50,000 from the International Foundation within three days for assistance for the needy from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and in 2007 in after the devastating tornado in Evergreen," says the spokesman.
Lions Clubs in Moore County are always seeking dedicated people who would like to make a difference in their community, their state and the world. If you are interested in becoming a Lion, call (910) 692-7966 for more information or the name of your local Lions club.
To donate to the Lions Clubs International Foundations Haiti relief online go to www.lcif.org/donate. Select "LCIF Haiti Earthquake Relief" in the comments section.
"And when you see the local Lions having a fundraiser, please be generous," says the spokesman.
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