Williamstown Lions Club Hosts Fundraiser for Sight-Related Efforts | News, Sports, Jobs

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Williamstown Lions Club member Pat Stead, left, empties donations from her bucket into one held by White Cane Day club president Stella Johnson during Monday’s annual fundraiser at Second Street and Highland Avenue in Williamstown. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

WILLIAMSTOWN — Visiting an area family on Monday from Tennessee, Pecos Wagner wasn’t sure what cause he was donating to when he dropped money into a bucket held by member of the Williamstown Lions Club, near the intersection of Highland Avenue and Second Street.

Jones was collecting for the club’s annual White Cane Day fundraiser to help provide glasses, eye exams and lead dogs for the visually impaired.

It turned out that Wagner had a personal connection.

“That’s how I got my first pair of glasses when I was 19” his wife, Jean Wagner, said upon learning who was fundraising.

It was a chance encounter since the Wagners were meeting relatives for lunch at Da Vinci’s, which is closed on Mondays but allowed the Lions Club to set up shop in the parking lot. While International White Cane Safety Day is October 15, local fundraising usually takes place a month earlier.

Jack Jones, a member of the Williamstown Lions Club, accepts a donation from a motorist Monday at Second Street and Highland Avenue in Williamstown as part of the club’s annual White Cane Day effort to raise money for eyeglasses, eye exams sight and lead dogs for the blind. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“We normally do it on Labor Day, but it rained this year so we had to move our day,” said Sherry Valentine, second vice president of the Williamstown Lions Club.

A dozen club members took to the intersection from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, raising more than their goal of $3,000.

Jones said he’s been helping out with the event since 2006 and enjoys raising money for a good cause and spending time with fellow Lions.

“The camaraderie of our members is exceptional,” he said.

Jones and others held the distinctive white canes used by some blind people to help navigate their surroundings. According to a Lions International fact sheet, the white cane was developed by a British photographer who lost his sight and introduced to North America by Peoria, Illinois, Lions Club president George A. Bonham. The concept has spread to other Lions clubs across the country.

Tennessee resident Pecos Wagner, left, talks to Williamstown Lions Club member Jack Jones after donating money to the club’s White Cane Day fundraiser on Monday. Club members collected donations on Highland Avenue and Second Street in Williamstown from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“The white cane was invented in England, but the Lions Club took it up…brought it here and made it a global cause,” said Jay Houser, district governor of the Lions Club, who attended Monday’s event. “We didn’t invent it, but we took it and ran with it.”

Stella Johnson, chair of the White Cane Day effort, said some motorists didn’t know about the club and learned about how they serve while donating.

Houser noted that Lions International’s main focus areas are sight, hunger, childhood cancer, diabetes awareness and the environment. In addition to raising money for efforts to address sight issues, the club works with a local food pantry, raises money for the WVU Cancer Institute, conducts a highway cleanup, hosts a paint drive, and tires and more.

Valentine said the group is always looking for new members. People can register online at the Lions International website or attend a meeting held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month at Williamstown Presbyterian Church.

Evan Bevins can be reached at [email protected]

Williamstown Lions Club President David Dotson accepts a donation from a motorist Monday on Second Street in Williamstown as part of the club’s annual White Cane Day effort to raise money for eyeglasses, exams sight and lead dogs for the blind. (Photo by Evan Bevins)




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