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Gift of sight . . . Timaru Host Lions Club member Colin McRobie is the club's co-ordinator for the International Lions Clubs Sight First Campaign, which is collecting unwanted glasses to be distributed in the Pacific Islands PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

Thousands of pairs of glasses have passed through Colin McRobie’s Timaru home over the years.

The Timaru Host Lions Club member is the club’s co-ordinator for the International Lions Clubs’ Sight First Campaign, which encourages Lions clubs throughout New Zealand to collect unwanted glasses to be distributed in the Pacific Islands and other parts of the world.

“We take it for granted that if we have vision issues, we can go and fix them. But they can’t just do that in the islands.”

For many years now, Mr McRobie has co-ordinated the Timaru Host Lions Club’s effort, collecting boxes of glasses from the three local optometrists and providing a drop-off or collection service to community groups and members of the community who have unwanted glasses to donate.

Mr McRobie said thousands of pairs of glasses had been donated over the years, – last week there were four boxes full in his lounge. He said he usually stockpiled donated glasses and sent them up to Christchurch three or four times a year.

“But I’m sure there are a lot sitting around in cupboards and drawers that people no longer need. It’s about making people aware that there is such a thing [as the collection], because a lot of people don’t know about it.”

Donations from Timaru are sent to the Ferrymead Lions Club, which has been processing the donated items for more than 30 years.

While most of the glasses that make their way to Mr McRobie’s home come from optometrists, he also spreads the word through his networks.

Anyone with glasses to donate can contact Mr McRobie on (03) 686-6710, or drop them into a local optometrist.