Eyesight is essential

Elementary students receive annual eye exams at school. The Gainesville Lions Club helps to purchase needed eyeglasses for some Cooke County students. The club is raising funds for the eyeglasses project with their 6th annual Spaghetti Dinner this Thursday. Pictured is AGAPE registered nurse Carolyn Singleton helping Javaun Hendricks with his eye exam last year at Head Start.

The Gainesville Lions Club’s sixth annual Spaghetti Dinner to benefit the local eyeglasses program for children is from 5 to 8 p.m., Thursday at the First State Bank Conference Center.

Lions Club Secretary Kanita Maxwell said, “The Lions’ mission is to serve, and so we have these fundraisers within the community to raise funds for the eye exams and eyeglasses for the local elementary schools within the Cooke County area.”

The event will also host a Country Store for homemade preserves, crafts and other items. There will be a raffle and the prize will be a 32-inch flatscreen TV. Tickets for the raffle are $1 each or six tickets for $5. They can be purchased at the door or from any Lions Club member prior to the dinner.

Takeout for the Spaghetti Dinner starts at 5 p.m. and the regular sit-down dinner is from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 per person.

Maxwell said that the club receives an update report every month regarding the eyeglasses program.

“The last report shared at the March 9 meeting showed that 33 pair of eyeglasses had been purchased for students in the local schools,” she noted.

Maxwell said each year the elementary schools test each student’s eyesight.

“We have to go through the school nurse,” Maxwell said. “The nurse knows which students need glasses and recommends them for the project.”

Those who need assistance to purchase the glasses go to local places including Texas State Optical, Wal-Mart Vision Center and York Eye Associates.

Gainesville Lions Club member Merle Currie oversees the project that provides eyeglasses for local children.

“This has been a primary project for Lions Clubs for years,” Currie said. “Children must be able to see and read to be successful in life.”

The nurses do a great job for the kids, Currie added.

The club provides applications for the program to the schools and the nurses know which students need help obtaining glasses. The applications are in English and Spanish and are sent home for the parent or guardian with the student. When the application is returned to the school nurse, the Lions Club will be contacted.

Students that are home-schooled and don’t have contact with the school nurse can also receive needed glasses.

Currie said that kids often come back and tell the nurse they are glad they have glasses because now they can see.

The eyeglasses program became a project for the Lions Clubs when Helen Keller attended a Lions convention and challenged them to be “knights of the blind.”

The Gainesville Lions Club also collects glasses to recycle and send to people in countries throughout the world. Drop off locations for recycled glasses are at most optometrists’ offices, the Stanford House and Wal-mart.

For more information about the benefit call Kanita Maxwell at (940) 736-5705.

For more information about the Lions Club charities and organizations supported by the Gainesville Lions Club go to www.texaslions.org, www.lions2e2.com or www.lionsclubs.org.

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