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by Abigail Van Buren

Early Riser Gets First Crack at Neighbor's Morning Paper

DEAR ABBY: I am a Lion from the Sandusky Lions Club, in the Ohio city where the late Helen Keller first challenged Lions International to become the "Knights for the Blind."

Periodically you publish announcements of free eye care for the working poor offered early in the year by the American Optometric Association. Please make your readers aware that similar services are offered year-round in most communities of the United States, and also in many communities around the world.

Most towns or cities have a Lions Club. Each one is dedicated to providing services to further sight conservation. Most of our clients are referred by school nurses or various churches. The clients tend to be individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid and have no medical insurance.

Please let your readers know that they should contact a local Lions Club member if they know anyone in need of services for loss of sight or diabetes (the leading cause of blindness). -- JUDE THEIBERT, SANDUSKY, OHIO

DEAR JUDE: Thank you for the timely reminder that the Lions Club provides these important services. And thank you, Lions, for meeting Helen Keller's challenge.

Readers, you can assist the Lions Club in fulfilling their mission by donating your old eyeglasses. Call your local Lions Club or look for Lions Club collection barrels in libraries, malls, eyewear stores or other public places. Better yet, call 1-800-74SIGHT (747-4448) for the address of the nearest collection site.

What a wonderful gift to give during this holiday season -- the gift of sight!

P.S. The Lions Club is the largest service organization in the world, with an impressive 144,000 clubs in 185 countries. Almost a million and a half members, men and women, volunteer their time for humanitarian causes. Staggering figures, to say the least.