As one of its five statewide projects, the Wisconsin Lions Foundation collects used eyeglasses at its Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center (ERC) in Rosholt as part of our Eyeglass Recycling Project. The used eyeglasses are then distributed to many medical mission headquarters across the globe. The most recent successful mission was completed in November of 2022 when the Foundation for Philippine Medical Missions delivered more than 4,000 pairs of glasses to individuals in need. Lion Gerry Hegna shared his story of this mission…

Providing the ‘Gift of Sight’

After returning from a medical mission in the Philippines last year, Gerry immediately emailed the ERC to let them know of the mission’s success: “We served nearly 2,500 a day, and the gratitude and appreciation expressed was, once again, just unbelievable. This mission would not have been possible without the support of Lions International and the Eyeglass Recycling Center.”

The Wisconsin Lions Foundation Eyeglass Recycling Center is one of only 18 Lions Clubs International Certified Recycling Centers in the world. Annually, they process around 800,000 pairs of used eyeglasses at the Recycling Center before the eyeglasses embark on journeys across the world to areas that have little or no access to eye health services.

In his email, Gerry shared heartwarming stories of those who were “given the ‘gift of sight.’”

Gerry described a high school student who was unable to read the board during class and had to resort to capturing photos of his lessons on his phone, so he could later zoom in and read the words. After his eyeglass fitting, the student can now read the board in class and meaningfully participate with his peers and teachers.

Another young woman came to Gerry with a pair of “old, very broken and scratched” glasses, which made it extremely difficult for her to work. Gerry described the moment this young woman’s “smile returned” after she was fitted with a new pair of glasses, noting she could see clearly again without suffering from eye strain.

Lastly, Gerry spoke of an elderly man who came to the clinic with his bible, which he had not been able to read for 20 years. Gerry told us, “tears streamed down [the old man’s face] as he used his new glasses to read his bible once again.”

A Sight to See

At the end of the day, Gerry and his team on the medical mission were able to provide eyeglasses to more than 4,000 individuals, each with their unique story. Enjoy these photos of the mission volunteers and eyeglass recipients.

A Mission worker uses a vision screening machine to test a Philippine man's eyesight. They sit across from each other at a table and both are wearing masks.    A Mission worker screens a Philippine woman's eyes using a screening device. In the background, many others are also getting their vision screened and fitted for eyewear.    A Philippine woman in a pink shirt reads text on a paper to test her new eyewear. In the background, others are seen also reading and filling out paperwork.

At a long white table, vision screeners are seated on one side and Philippine individuals in need of eyewear are seated on the other. Each vision screener is working with a patient to fill out paperwork and fit their new glasses.   A young Philippine woman in a white shirt and light green mask is photographed with her new pair of glasses, which have circular, gold frames.   A young Philippine boy poses for a photo in his new eyeglasses, which have a silver, circular frame. His mask if pulled down slightly so you can see his smile.    A Philippine woman is seen trying on a pair of glasses. She wears a pink shirt and is seen adjusting the glasses on her face.

Reaching, Touching, and Improving Lives

When we hear stories of such moving testimonies, we cannot help but feel proud of our projects and as though we are fulfilling our Mission to reach, touch and improve lives. We thank Lions like Gerry for their continued support of our Eyeglass Recycling Project. We hope the story of this successful medical mission in the Philippines can continue to demonstrate why the Wisconsin Lions Foundation is committed to this work. With the help of our supporters, we have the ability to touch lives half a world away.

To learn more about our Eyeglass Recycling Project, check out this recent article or reach out to our Project Director, Keith Mueller at with any questions. If you’re interested in supporting this work, consider a donation to the Wisconsin Lions Foundation and our Eyeglass Recycling Project.