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Spirited competition reinvigorates students, Lions Clubs

Apr 06, 2021
Courtesy of: Glen Widmer Students at Capt. Albert Stevens School in Belfast help sort and count collected eyeglasses and used cellphones.

Along Midcoast Maine, winter tends to slow down recreational scuba diving opportunities. But for two scuba dive buddies, their time out of water gave them the chance to do some community service.

Divers Sean Kelly and Chip Lagerbom, who also happen to be Lions Club members from Camden and Belfast, talked about some sort of collaboration between their two organizations and communities. They hit upon the idea for their respective school districts to run an eyeglass, cellphone and hearing aid collection drive during the month of March.

Both clubs have growing LEO organizations at various stages of development  for K-12 students focusing on Leadership-Experience-Opportunity. Kelly and Lagerbom thought such a drive might help energize community service spirit at the schools and re-energize their own adult clubs.

The competition was designed to recognize the building which collected the most eyeglasses, cellphones and hearing aids. A percentage formula for the number of collected items divided by the number of students in the building was set up so smaller schools would not be at a disadvantage.

Official Lions Club certificates would be presented to each participating building, hopefully in an award presentation ceremony to the staff and students presented by some local Lions Club members. And a plaque would be presented to the building which had overall collected the most items.

Kelly and Lagerbom approached their respective school districts and LEO clubs (Regional School Unit 71 in Belfast and RSU 28 in Camden) to help organize the drive. "The response was outstanding," Lagerbom said. "In RSU 71 district and surrounding communities, six schools jumped at the opportunity to take part in the drive. Some Lions Club donation boxes were set up, but some of the schools wanted to design and decorate their own collection boxes."

Some of the schools integrated the collected items into lesson plans involving counting and percentages. School newsletters and Facebook postings helped spread the word. Throughout the month, reminder notes went out to students and parents and staff.

Children and staff at Belfast Area High School, Troy Howard Middle School, Capt. Albert Stevens School, Gladys Weymouth School, Ames Elementary and Kermit Nickerson School each collected, sorted, counted and stored donated items as they came in. Participating buildings in RSU 28 included Camden Hills Regional High School, Camden-Rockport Middle School and Mid-Coast School of Technology.

Belfast Area High School came in first, collecting 599 pairs of glasses, cellphones and hearing aids. Overall, RSU 71 collected 901 items. Camden’s Mid-Coast School of Technology collected 36 items and RSU 28's overall total came in at 88 items. Both districts combined to collect 989 eyeglasses, cellphones and hearing aids.

Although the contest ended April 1, some of the participating schools plan to keep collection boxes available for those who still wish to donate their old, no longer used eyeglasses, cellphones and hearing aids, Lagerbom said.

"Already, there is talk of some other kind of drive or effort, something to keep the spirit of community service going," he said.


Students at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast organize their collected items. (Courtesy of: Andrew Hicock)
Students at Belfast Area High School total up their collection of used eyeglasses and cell phones (Courtesy of: Charles H. Lagerbom)
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