On March 19 the Santa Monica Lions Club will attempt to outdo itself by helping even more people during their Lions Eyes Across California event than they did last year.

“Last year was the Lions Clubs of California’s first year with this statewide initiative,” president of the Santa Monica Lions, Susan DeRemer, said. “They decided that all the Lions Clubs, on the very same day, would do something related to vision. That we would all participate throughout the state.”

So the Santa Monica Lions partnered with the Virginia Avenue Park Farmers Market to hold an event during which they gave out free eyeglasses, performed free eye screenings and collected used glasses. DeRemer said it was a success, with 79 people receiving eye screenings, 125 pairs of eyeglasses given away and over 1,000 used eyeglasses collected.

“All of us kind of came together and it was so popular … even the representative from the Pico Neighborhood group asked if we would do it again and to make it bigger and to try and be able to see more people,” she said. “So we are doing it again and we are actually growing it this year to include two other nonprofits, The Center for the Partially Sighted and Vision To Learn.”

The Center for the Partially Sighted provides optometric services, assistive technology and independent living training, rehabilitation services, individual counseling and support groups for those who have vision loss that cannot be restored with medicine, surgery or regular glasses.

Vision To Learn, founded in 2012 in Los Angeles, is focused on helping children with vision needs in the classroom by coming to schools and providing eye exams and glasses for free.

DeRemer said that with these organizations helping out, in particular Vision To Learn, the event would be able to benefit even more people.

“Some of the people we saw last year were children. And because we are bringing in Vision To Learn and a mobile screening unit as well, they are going to work with us and do free eye exams for kids, not just screenings,” she said. “And if they need eye glasses they will receive them for free to try and help them see and do well in school. So Vision To Learn will handle all of the children, and we will focus more on adults.”

And Vision To Learn is happy to be lending a hand.

“Vision To Learn is thrilled to be working with the Lions Club of Santa Monica to bring our services to kids in need. We make sure every child has the glasses they need to succeed at school, and in life,” said Vision To Learn founder and chairman Austin Beutner.

According to DeRemer, Lions Clubs International (LCI) is the largest service organization in the world with more than 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs located in more than 200 countries. They are recognized for their service to the blind and visually impaired because of a challenge issued by Helen Keller to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness” during the Lions’ 1925 International Convention.

DeRemer is hoping that through this event people in the community will see the Lions Club and know a little more about what they do.

“I want people to become more aware of the Lions, or just service clubs in general and how important they are to the community,” she said.

This year the Lions Club of Santa Monica will hold their Lions Eyes Across California event on Saturday, March 19 at Virginia Avenue Park from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. For more information, visit http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/santamonica.

jennifer@www.smdp.com