Charlie Corkum, 90, doesn't like to see things go to waste, so he started collecting old eyeglasses 25 years ago to donate to those who often can't afford them.

Over the years, the Summerside resident, a St. Eleanor's Lions Club member, has collected tens of thousands of eyeglasses from Islanders.

The project started after Corkum heard about other Lions Clubs around the world recycling eyeglasses.

"It was a shame all these glasses were going to waste, in the garbage likely," Corkum told CBC Radio's Island Morning.

"People use a lot of glasses now. I'm an old man and when I was younger, people would wear one pair of glasses for years and years."

'It's a good feeling to do something for other people.' - Charlie Corkum

Corkum said he hasn't kept count of how many glasses people have donated over the years, but he figures it's at least 1,000 pairs a year for the past 25 years.

He used to take them with him to Cuba while vacationing with his wife.

"Apparently, they didn't ship glasses to Cuba from the Lions Club — I guess on account of the politics, I suppose," he said. "So when I went down I used to take a 100, maybe or 150 or 200, just scattered around in my luggage."

Inmates may sort and clean glasses

Corkum used to give them to doctors or nurses stationed at the resorts.

"I know they were really glad to get them," he said.

Though he's not as involved in the Lions Club these days, Corkum still collects glasses and the initiative has spread to other clubs on the Island.


This is a handful of the thousands of glasses collected by Charlie Corkum and the St. Eleanor's Lions Club over the past 25 years. (CBC)

"It's a good feeling to do something for other people. I hope when I die … my life on earth has made it no worse, let's put it that way."

He said his Lions Club hasn't sent any glasses abroad for a several years because of the high shipping costs. The club has about 3,000 pairs that it plans to send out at some point.

"They'll be going somewhere, that's for sure," said Corkum.

A Justice Department spokesperson told Island Morning there are preliminary talks underway about having inmates at the Provincial Correctional Centre clean and sort the eyeglasses gathered by P.E.I. Lions Clubs before they are sent to other countries.