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December 6, 2017

Most people have noticed the Lions Club’s yellow and blue painted recycled U.S. mailboxes that are scattered around New Jersey. And many of those folks have thoughtfully dropped their used eyeglasses into one of them to be recycled.

Those donors and the local Lions Clubs that maintain the boxes and collect the eyeglasses begin an operation that reaches into the far corners of the world, improving eyesight and enhancing lives.

How many spectacles flow through the yellow and blue boxes of the N.J. Eyeglass Recycling Center? A lot! More specifically, in the year ending March 31, 2017, we received 1,015,572 pairs of eyeglasses.

Those eyeglasses were then sent to skilled volunteers – seniors in Lakehurst-Manchester and inmates of the Edna Mahon Women’s Correctional Facility near Clinton and the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel. We are grateful to these volunteers – all people with time on their hands and a desire to help others. They sorted and cleaned the glasses and examined the lenses to determine their prescription.

The recycled glasses are then sent to our recycling center in West Trenton, and in that 2016-17 year, 73,928 were forwarded to a variety of medical missions which fitted them onto the smiling faces of people in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, South and Central America, and in the United States, too.

What happened to the hundreds of thousands of spectacles that weren’t distributed? Some of them went into inventory awaiting deployment, but most of them were too scratched or worn out for reuse. So those lenses and frames were sold to a specialized recycling company – Re Specs, Los Angeles, California. Although our system runs mostly on warm hearts, these sales produce the cold cash that pays our bills.

Our annual budget is only $59,200 dollars, but as our president Al Brewer says, “our most valuable asset is the desire to help others all over the world, and that’s what really energizes our network. Thank you all so much!”


The NJLERC supports many missions around the world, including:

Africa, Antigua, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua,Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, South America, United States and Zambi.

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