The ‘eyes’ have it

Lions Club Valentine’s Day event raises funds for eyeglass program

The elderly man’s glasses are what Stillwater Lions Club member Gary Bressler remembers.

The unidentified man was proud, but not well-off; he neither sought nor accepted any help or aid, according to Bressler.

So when the elderly man needed glasses, he took matters into his own hands, Bressler said.

“He had two lenses taped to a coat hanger he made into a frame,” Bressler said. “He did not want to accept anything.”

The good news is the elderly man was put in contact with the Lions Club eyeglass program which paid for his new glasses.

And since the Lions Club puts its heart into the eyeglass program, it’s appropriate that the club’s  biggest fundraiser occurs on Valentine’s Day. This year’s dinner is Thursday, Feb. 14 at The Water Street Inn in downtown Stillwater.

The event starts with a 5:30 p.m. social hour, followed at 6:30 by dinner and 7:30 by dancing with music from La Banda. There is a silent auction, cash door prizes and wall of wine.

Tickets are $60 per person and available until Feb. 12. Mail ticket orders to Mac Barless, Lions Club Secretary, P.O. Box 12, Stillwater, MN, 55082 or call 651-230-4272.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year. I’m shooting for 150 (people) this year,” Bressler said. “It’s open to the public. You don’t need to be a Lions Club member to attend.”

The Lions Club has a $10,000 fundraising goal for their 14th annual Valentine’s Day dinner and dance, Bressler said. The group currently has between $3,000 to $4,000 in their eyeglass fund.

The program goal is simple. Provide eye exams and glasses for children and adults who otherwise could not afford them. Bressler said parents, teachers, school nurses, neighbors, even eye clinic personnel who know someone who could benefit from Lions Club program are encouraged to contact a club member.

“They can contact anyone in the Lions Club. Any member can bring in a request. We determine the need and then act on it,” he said.

Persons who qualify for the Lions Club program receive an eye examination and frames and lenses through the local VisionWorks outlet, according to Bressler.

“They do the labor and we buy the lenses and frames,” he said.

Although the Lions’ eyeglass program focused on children in the past, Bressler stressed that qualified adults are also helped by the group, especially with the rise in diabetes cases.

“Even diabetes has a relationship with the eyes. Eyes are the first thing to go in severe diabetes,” he said.

Another reason the Valentine’s Day fundraiser is important to the Lions Club is to prevent the program running out of funds, which happened at the end of last year, Bressler said. That situation forced the club to turn down some eyeglass requests, he added.

“The Lions’ coffers are much better,” Bressler said. “We’ve set up a relationship with the St. Croix Foundation.”

But there is another reason the local Lions Club chose Valentine’s Day to host a fundraiser, Bressler said.

“We’re getting long in the tooth. We need youth,” he said.