Members of the Hampton Bays High School’s newest community service club are getting ready to send the used eyeglasses and lenses they’ve collected over the past few weeks overseas to those who cannot afford them.
Michael Del Ray, a high school junior and the president of the Leo’s Club, said he and his fellow students collected 90 old eyeglasses over three weeks, all of which will be donated as part of their first initiative. Collection boxes had been set up in each of the district’s three school buildings.
“I thought it went really well,” Michael said of the fundraiser. “It was a pretty good start to our year.”
Leo’s Club is an extracurricular organization for students who are interested in completing all sorts of community service. The club—which is run by Larry Luce, the business administrator for the district, and Marybeth Valenti, a high school chemistry teacher—is a branch of Lions Club International, a community service organization for adults that has a Hampton Bays chapter. Mr. Luce is a member of that local chapter.
Leo’s Club was first approved by the district in November and, later that month, nearly 100 high school students signed up—a number that surprised both organizers.
The group’s first charity drive is actually an extension of year-round initiative overseen by the Hampton Bays chapter of the Lions Club, according to Mr. Luce. The senior club, he explained, has permanent eyeglass collection boxes set up throughout the hamlet, including inside the Suffolk County National Bank on West Montauk Highway, the Hampton Bays Public Library on Ponquogue Avenue, and the King Kullen on East Montauk Highway.
Old eyeglasses and lenses collected by the group are packaged and shipped to the Lion’s Club International headquarters in Illinois where they are cleaned, repackaged and sent overseas and given to those who need them. It was unclear as of earlier this week where the eyeglasses collected by the Leo’s Club would eventually be sent.
Typically, Mr. Luce said, the Lions collect between 100 and 200 old eyeglasses over an entire year.
Even though they nearly matched that number in less than a month, students had higher expectations for their first drive, according to Michael.
“We didn’t reach our goal, but maybe next year we will start earlier,” he added.