(Posted May 19, 2021)
By Theresa Hennis, Staff Writer
The London Lions Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Most people associate Lions clubs with the donation of glasses to people in need. The Lions Club does that and so much more.
The club’s logo is “We Serve,” and a slogan they use is “Where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.” Lion stands for “Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Safety.” In 1925, Helen Keller spoke at a Lions Club national convention in Sandusky, Ohio, and she challenged the Lions to become the Knights of the Blind.
“I have been blind in one eye since birth. I thought, this group is doing something for eyesight problems, and it was a fit for me,” said Greg Eades, London Lions Club secretary.
The London club’s ongoing project is the collection of used eyeglasses, with upwards of 1,500 pairs donated to the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University. The students sort the glasses and read the prescriptions, then eight to 10 students and professors go to third world countries to distribute 15,000 to 18,000 pairs of glasses at a time. They find a prescription as close as possible to what each recipient needs.
“And we don’t limit ourselves just to eyeglasses, vision tests, etc.,” Eades said about the club’s community service. “We’ve broadened out to help lots of families in different areas of need.”
Recently, the club donated $1,000 to Cole and Renee McClaskie whose daughter, Brayli, is undergoing specialized chemotherapy for retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. Brayli travels to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for treatments. The McClaskies are self-employed and do not have a health savings plan or paid time off.
The benefits of Lions Club membership lie not only in the good feeling of helping people around the globe and close at home, but also in the friendships built along the way.
“I think the big thing about membership is the fellowship,” said Dick Hughes, a current trustee and London Lions Club member for 63 years. “I made a lot of friends all over the world, and it has been well worth the while. You get out of it what you put into it, and the returns are great.”
The biggest challenge the London club faces is making young people aware of the opportunities to help serve their community.
“Our main focus going forward is how to get the younger people involved and to do things that put us out in plain sight to the public,” said Gary Likens, the club’s vice president and newest member.
In addition to Eades and Likens, the club’s officers are: Skeeter Nelson, president; Nena Dillon, treasurer; and Anita Likens, Sheila Nelson and Barbara Rife, directors.
Anyone 18 and older can join the Lions Club. For more information about joining, meeting times, and how you can make a difference, call Greg Eades at (740) 852-4090 and look for “London Ohio Lions Club” on Facebook.