CARMEL VALLEY — When Carmel Valley resident Carolyn Kirner was crowned Mrs. California Outstanding Married Woman 2017, she decided to use her title to help others locally and worldwide.
Since September she has collected baby items for the youngest victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, used shoes for people affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and money to help a single mother dealing with loss after the Thomas fire in Ventura.
Now she has set her sights on helping to improve the vision of those in need.
“I started out the new year with a mission to give the gift of better sight,” said Kirner, who on Jan. 1 began collecting used eyeglasses and sunglasses that she will donate to Lions Club International.
Her goal is 200 pairs by Feb. 16. Her motivation is twofold.
Kirner was diagnosed with keratoconus, a disorder that thins the cornea and causes blurred, distorted vision.
“Fortunately for me, I got it later in life … so I will probably always have to wear glasses but my eyesight will not get worse and I will not have to have surgery,” she said. “I am one of the fortunate ones as this is usually a pretty devastating eye disease.”
Additionally, things did not go as expected last year when her husband, Chuck Schmidt, had corrective eye surgery. Since July he has had five follow-up procedures.
“It’s been a tough year,” Kirner said. “Both my hubby and I realized just how important our eyesight is and what a gift it is to be able to see adequately.
“Donating glasses can change someone’s life,” she added. “Imagine if you could help a child read, an adult succeed in his job, a senior maintain her independence and provide a community with more opportunities to grow and thrive.”
She said Lions Clubs International’s recycled eyeglass program achieves all that.
Glasses can be dropped off in the collection bin at 12625 High Bluff Drive, Ste. 306. Donors can also contact Kirner at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pickup.
The collected glasses will be cleaned, sanitized and repaired by the Del Sol Lions Club and then sent to Lions International, which will distribute them to the needy around the world, Kirner said.
Lions Clubs International was founded in 1917. At one of its first conventions, guest speaker Helen Keller challenged the organization to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”