You may have heard of the Ottumwa Noon Lions Club but most people are not aware of the fantastic service that this group of committed volunteers provides to its community. The local Lions Club, which is a nonprofit organization, was organized in May 2, 1939 and recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. The Ottumwa Noon Lions participates in many fundraisers in order to further its mission such as the Annual Pancake Breakfast, Ottumwa Pro Balloon Races, Coupon Book sales, and Holiday Nights ‘N Lights. The priorities of this wonderful organization are many and include the prevention of blindness and combating vision diseases, aiding in hearing preservation and providing diabetes education.
One of the main ways the Ottumwa Noon Lions Club is making a difference in children’s lives is to provide service and support to the Iowa KidSight program in Wapello County and the surrounding areas. The KidSight program is a collaboration between the Lions Club and the University of Iowa Pediatric Ophthalmology Department. Local clubs, such as the Ottumwa Noon Lions Club, utilize a special camera to take pictures of children’s eyes. The age of the children served range from 6 months to 5 years. Once taken, the pictures are sent to the University of Iowa where they are read by doctors who are able to detect a myriad of eye diseases and disorders. The University then sends a letter to the children’s parents advising them of the results. In January of 2014, the Iowa Legislature wrote into the Iowa Code a requirement for all children to receive a vision screening before entering school. Four options were given to satisfy this requirementy and the Iowa KidSight program was selected as one. Availability of the KidSight program is vital to many parents as the screenings are provided free of charge and are performed within a critical period of a child’s development. Since the program inception, the Ottumwa Lions Club has conducted 273 vision screenings representing 4,297 children, 242 of these children were referred to a local eye care professional for treatment.
Through a grant from Legacy’s Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund, the Ottumwa Noon Lions Club was recently able to purchase a new digital camera for the exclusive use of the KidSight vision screenings in Wapello and contiguous counties. Prior to this award, members were required to drive to Washington to “borrow” a camera for their vision screenings. With this new digital camera, screenings are completed in about half of the time it took with the old camera!
The Ottumwa Noon Lions are proud that every single dollar earned is provided to the programs and projects they support. In addition to the KidSight Program, these include:
- Providing vision assistance for exams and eye glasses for all ages in the local area
- Assistance for hearing exams and hearing aids for all ages in our local area
- Covering registration fees for Campers to attend Camp Hertko Hollow (kids ages 6 – 18 with diabetes) located in Des Moines, Iowa
- Covering registration fees for Campers to attend Camp Courageous (individuals with disabilities) located in Monticella, Iowa
- Support for Leader Dogs for the Blind
If you would like more information about how to join this wonderful organization, visit their website at http://iowalions.org/ottumwanoon/.