By ALISA MANNA
The Canfield Lions Club volunteered at Hilltop Elementary School on Oct. 18 to provide visual and hearing screenings to first-graders.
For more than 12 years, the club has been to several schools in Mahoning County to offer its services. The organization was originally founded and based on vision and sight screenings, and the dedication to helping the community hasn’t changed since.
The club began after members attended training sessions offered by Prevent Blindness Ohio to learn individual tests in the screenings process and to obtain free equipment.
“Our process is different than the usual screenings at schools because we not only test distance vision, but we also test for muscle problems and significant far-sightedness,” optometrist Carmela Abraham said.
Abraham said the Lions Club’s screenings go above what is mandated by the state to uncover vision problems and visual problems that affect learning.
Along with the Canfield Lions Club, a few members from Boardman Lions Club also volunteered to observe and learn how to provide screenings in their school district.
“Our club became too small years ago and we had to give up performing screenings,” Boardman Lions Club president Terry Shears said. “We plan to get a team together and buy our own equipment.”
The Boardman Lions Club members watched to learn special techniques as Canfield’s club worked with the students.
“It can be a scary thing for kids to go through, but Canfield’s members do such a good job putting them at ease,” Shears said.
Though it’s not required, both Canfield and Boardman’s clubs had an optometrist with them.
“Not every club does, but we always try to bring an eye doctor with ours,” optometrist Mandy Ward said.
Not only does the club provide services in schools, but they also hold food drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Together, with the Canfield school systems, Knights of Columbus, Canfield Community Chest and Canfield Community Care Net, we give approximately 100 families a box of food and a food certificate to a local store,” member Andy Skrobola said.
The middle school and high school’s Leo Club also participate in the food drive by passing out bags with attached letters asking for the community to contribute what they can.
“We then collect and organize all the food at St. Paul’s Church,” Skrobola said. “It’s distributed the Saturday before Thanksgiving or Christmas for the families.”
The organization donates all the money raised at its functions to the community by paying for eye examines, glasses and surgeries. The national and international club also donates to charities.