top of page

"The Dance of the Glasses"

The journey the glasses take on their way to helping the impoverished starts with you!  Unused or seldom-used glasses, sunglasses, and reading glasses can be taken to your local optometrist's office to be donated.  You just need to find the little boxes and receptacles that read "Recycle for Sight."  Your local Lions Club collects all these donated frames and lenses.  According to the SD Lions Club Foundation website,, "Lions of South Dakota collect more than 50,000 pairs of used eyeglasses every year for volunteer missions."  That's a lot of glasses, but not all of these glasses can be used on mission trips.


They first need to pass inspection, which removes any flawed frames or lenses.  The next step is to verify the power of the lenses using lensometers.  The glasses are then cleaned and packaged, and are now ready to be sent on a mission.  You are probably wondering how the donated glasses get from the Lions Club boxes to the packaged product.  In the past, there was a program at the South Dakota State Correctional Facility in Sioux Falls, where inmates would verify, clean and package the glasses.  However, this program was dissolved, and for 5 years Kay Thomas and the Palace City Lions Club in Mitchell, SD, took over the primary responsibility for this task.  You can read more about this by visiting the Special Thanks page.  Today, the donated glasses are sent to the SD Women's Prison in Pierre, SD, where inmates help process over 5,000 pairs of glasses a month.  These glasses are then sorted by a team comprised of Lions Club and South Dakota VOSH members at the annual "Sorting Party" held every November at the South Dakota Lions Club Foundation Office.  Once sorted into their respective refractive powers, the glasses can then be shipped to the sites of the mission trip that needs them.

Donated Glasses
Woman takes glasses off
Lions Club Donation Boxes
South Dakota Women's Prison
Lions Club Logo
Smiling Mexican children with glasses take photo
South Dakota VOSH Logo
Jamaica and Mexico flags together

 If you are interested in contributing to "the dance of the glasses" by shuttling boxes of frames to and from Pierre and Sioux Falls, and/or would like to set up your own processing efforts to help the cause, please contact Kay Thomas at or Jennifer Sigette at  Additionally, if you want to volunteer at the "sorting party," please contact Kay or Jennifer. Thanks in advance for your help.

Watch a video showcasing exactly how this process here.

bottom of page