The annual Alberni Valley Lions Television Auction will have a new backdrop this year. For the past 42 years, the fundraiser has taken place at Glenwood Centre, but a new location this year is expected to provide better sound quality for viewers and a more comfortable venue for volunteers.
Since its inception, the Port Alberni Youth Centre Association has been encouraging community groups to use its multi-purpose building on Cedarwood Street. When the Lions Club members found out about the opportunity to move the auction across the field this year at no cost, they liked the idea of trying something new.
“It is smaller, the sound is better and we won’t need to use the loud fans (at Glenwood) for heat,” said Lion George Smith. “It is a godsend type of thing and the price continues to be right.”
As the largest fundraiser of the year for the club, members rely on such community support and have been out on the streets collecting 300 items from local businesses to put on the auction block. The resulting funds by the end of the evening, which in the past few years has risen to about $13,000, has always been directed to local charities.
This year, the Lions are funding an innovative machine to provide vision care in schools. The group is the first Lions club on Vancouver Island to commit to purchasing a spot scanner. The $10,000 piece of equipment very quickly assists in diagnosing people who have a vision impairment.
“We are going to start with school-aged kids and then expand into the community,” Smith said. “We know that there are assessments of children prior to entering school, including vision tests, but some (children) develop vision problems after that assessment, so this can provide opportunities for assessment after entering the school system. Parents can then go see an optometrist, but if they can’t afford that, the Lions can possibly help out with that, too.”
The new scanner was just approved by Health Canada in the spring of this year and the Lions club acted quickly to acquire one.
“Now other clubs are negotiating and we are likely to have five on the Island,” said Tom Hall, fellow Alberni Valley Lion.
Vision care has been an important priority for Lions clubs internationally and started with advocate Helen Keller. The clubs have been supporting the cause since Keller’s request in 1925 at the Lions Club International Convention.
Local Lions club members hope the scanner will help elementary school students in the classroom.
“When kids develop vision problems in later grades it really impacts their learning,” Hall said.
Lion Russ McLaughlin is still impressed with the amount of support by the community each year.
“We know a lot of households have auction parties and this year the Westwind Pub is hosting one for the public to help out,” he said.
The Lions continue to keep up with technology. Computer users can now watch via live stream at www.avlionsauction.com, where the items will also be listed starting Saturday, Nov. 14. The phone lines for pre-bids will be ready to go at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28 with the on-air program starting at 4:30 p.m. on Shaw TV.