(Posted April 28, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Staff Writer
Dozens of old eyeglass cases were headed for the trash bin, then London resident Anita Likens had a brainstorm.
Drawing inspiration from her involvement with the London Lions Club and the United Service Organization (USO), Likens came up with a thoughtful and playful way to give the eyeglass cases new life.
Lions Clubs across the globe collect used eyeglasses which are then redistributed to people in need. Clubs often end up with extra cases. Lions Club International turns the cases into medical kits and sewing kits for homeless individuals. Likens riffed on that idea to create activity kits for children–specifically children of military personnel visiting the USO at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton where Likens is a volunteer.
“I noticed that when military service members come in with their families–they might be stopping in the cafe, going to a conference, or using the facility and services in some other way–their kids need a way to pass the time. So, I thought of the idea for the activity kits,” she explained.
Likens decorates the outside of hard-shell eyeglass cases with stars, then fills the cases with kid-friendly stuff, like a coloring sheet and crayons, small toys, puzzles, balloons, and stickers. She puts the kits in a basket at the cafe where children can pick them up for free.
“I’ve donated 88 kits so far. The first 40 disappeared in two weeks. The kids love the snappy little cases and the fun stuff inside,” Likens said. “This is just another way to tell service members how much we love them and appreciate them.”
The kits started as a solo effort but, thanks to word of mouth, Likens now has support from not only the London Lions Club but also West Jefferson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7005. A few of the VFW members also are Lions Club members. The VFW has donated money for kit supplies.
Likens’s husband, Gary, is next in line to become president of the London Lions Club. He mentioned his wife’s activity kits to other club leaders from around the state and received positive feedback. The kits have the potential for outreach in a variety of settings.
“I think we are going to see this expand,” Likens said.
While she has plenty of cases and financial support for supplies, she could use help assembling the kits. She invites anyone interested in the London Lions Club or in helping with the project to attend a meeting to learn more.
The London Lions Club meets at 12 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at M&M Diner, 165 E. Center St., London, and at 6 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month at Eades Insurance, 60 W. High St., London.
Used eyeglasses can be donated at several sites in London, including Merchants National Bank, PNC Bank, B.J. Optical, Walls & Bennett Realty, the Madison County Senior Center, and London Public Library. Drop-off spots in West Jefferson include Lifetime Vision, Dr. Mark Garwood’s office, and Dr. Sam Weller’s office.