Lions Club has ‘eye’ on community

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Eye Bank to hold Eye Ball fundraiser this weekend

The Louisiana Lions Eye Bank will be hosting their First Annual Eye Ball Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn Ballroom in Bossier City.

This costume ball will have live food, music, cash bar, contests, Halloween games, and much more benefiting the Eye Bank.

This event is just one of the many ways that the Lions Eye Bank bring awareness of their organization to the community.

Tony Simpson, marketing and education coordinator, has developed a number of different ways to increase community involvement with the Eye Bank in the past year.

“I’ve been working with the Eye Bank as marketing and education coordinator for a year, but have been a supporter for much longer,” said Simpson. “The biggest thing we try to do is raise awareness. Many people don’t know we exist or what we do, so we try to bring that awareness and information to the community by getting out there and doing campaigns and fundraisers which helps the people to remember who we are. It gets them involved and gives them a reference back to the Eye Bank, which in turn gives them understanding of what we do and what we offer.”

Throughout the year, the Eye Bank holds several big events that benefit the organization.

“In March, with it being National Eye Donor Awareness Month, we are in full swing,” said Simpson. “We go to different venues and set up booths to bring awareness of who we are and have people sign up to be donors.”

Last year, the Bank had a luncheon, but this year they plan on having a full dinner and silent auction. They also have their annual golf tournament during the summer.

“This year will be the third year of doing the tournament. These two things, alongside the Eye Ball, are our biggest events of the year,” said Simpson.

While these yearly events hold great importance to the organization, the Eye Bank’s goal is to help people throughout the 36 parishes they cover regain their sight.

“We want people to remember us as an organization that gives sight,” said Simpson. “Our organization provides sight to the people of those parishes who are in need of a corneal transplant. But we can’t provide this opportunity to those in need, unless people sign up to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor. Therefore, we try to advocate to the community that this process is one of the community helping communities by providing sight by signing up to be a donor.

“A lot of people think they are or express interest in being a donor, but fail to sign up which is the most important thing. Our corneas we recover go state, nation, and worldwide. Last year, we provided over 280 people with sight, just in our area alone. Many people don’t realize the impact they can make. My job is to try to get the word out and let people know,” he added.

Simpson hopes that the people who attend the upcoming Eye Ball have a great time, but also leave with a better understanding and appreciation for the Eye Bank.

“My goal, foremost, is that even if we don’t make any money at this event, I hope it serves as facilitating a way to make pure community involvement possible,” said Simpson. “We have 400 seats available for the event, which we’ve sold half of that right now. I hope that the people who attend the event will walk away as supporters with a better understanding of who we are and acknowledge what we have to offer as an organization. My goal is to get the information out there and create a connection or tie between the members of the community and the Eye Bank.

He hopes the Eye Ball can become the Eye Bank’s signifier and a way to bring awareness to the community.

“Other than the importance of what we have to offer, the awareness helps us raise profits to support other things important to the Eye Bank, such as education and supplies. As a non-profit organization, we rely on raising money to make continued growth and expansion possible,” said Simpson.

He also has a number of new ideas and other events to start providing more awareness and information to the community.

“My hope is helping people to see us not as a morbid association, but rather as an organization that brings sight to others,” said Simpson. “I wish to change the outlook people have on the Eye Bank to a positive one leading to expansion, growth, and more community involvement. I created a campaign, which has now been put up on our billboards, called the Recycle Your Sight Campaign. This campaign will be used at hospitals, schools, DMVs, and other areas to start informing people on what being a donor means and what it means to others, on all aspects. Getting more people involved. With more involvement we are able to bring more awareness to the community which then, in turn, helps us to grow as an organization.”