GV Lions Club protects the eyes of little Lakers

Courtesy / GVSU Lions Club 

Courtesy / GVSU Lions Club 

Amy McNeel

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, two student members of the Grand Valley State University Lions Club visited the GVSU Children’s Enrichment Center for their annual Kidsight event. At the event, the Lions Club members screened 24 children to detect eye problems. 

Lions Club International (Loving Individuals Our Nations Safety) was founded in 1917 and now has over 1.4 million members in 211 countries. The club provides a safe space for individuals to join together and give their time and effort to their community and the world. The club’s main focus is vision, but they also help many different causes. 

“Helen Keller challenged the Lions to be Knights of the Blind at our International Convention in 1925 held at Cedar Point, Ohio, but today we have five global causes: Vision, Diabetes, Hunger, Environment and Pediatric Cancer,” said GVSU Campus Lions Club Adviser Cheryl Anderson. 

Members of the GVSU Lions Club pay ode to Keller’s request by hosting Kidsight each year, which provides free eye screenings to children at the GVSU Children’s Enrichment Center. 

“We offer this free service because these kids are about to enter grade school and some kids may need glasses to perform well in the classroom,” said GVSU Lions Club President Samual Merring.  “The eye screening we offer is very important because if we can detect a serious visual impairment in a child early on, we can make a big difference in the rest of their lives.”

At the event, club members use state-of-the-art eye screeners that capture eyesight in seconds. The screener will either register as “okay,” or if an eye problem is found, it will give a referral. Those who get a referral can then be sent to an eye doctor. This year, the children screened at the Children’s Enrichment Center did not have any referrals.  

“I decided to join Lions Club at Campus Life Night, and being born with a vision impairment myself I thought I’d be able to serve others in an impactful way by joining the club,” said Lions Club Historian and former President Ryan Harrower. “My favorite part of the event was the screening. Knowing that I was taking a little time out of my day to make sure that the kids’ vision was correct made me happy.”

Along with this annual screening, Lions Club members around the world host eye mission trips. The members collect recycled eyeglasses, clean and catalog them, and then distribute them around the world. There is even an eyeglass recycling center in Grand Rapids. 

“I just came back from Mexico with a team of 25 people – six doctors and the rest of us were just volunteering,” Anderson said. “One lady cried because she had not seen her grandchild’s face.  Another girl couldn’t walk because she was cross eyed; her mother had to carry her into the clinic, but she was able to look around and stand up once she was given glasses that straightened her eyes.”

All proceeds given to the Lions Club are given out to the public. People can help the Lions Club by giving glasses to eyeglass recycling centers or donating to the cause. GVSU students are encouraged to join the club. 

“I would like the GVSU community to know that we are a growing organization and that we are always looking for new members,” Merring said. “We frequently schedule community service projects for students looking to get involved in the Allendale or Grand Rapids area. Anyone looking to get involved can find us on LakerLink or contact me directly via email.”