Lions Club member John Kessler, left, and Haitian Family Medical Relief Project founder Widner Regis, with one of Mr. Kessler’s collection boxes; seated, Lions Club member Betsy Uzell.                            RoundTable photo

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A person living in Haiti who is ill but lucky enough to see a doctor has two choices of how to get the medicine back home: wrapped in paper or placed directly into his or her diseased hand. Widner Regis, president and one of the founders of the not-for-profit Haitian Family Medical Relief Project told members of the Evanston’s Lions Club that used but clean pill bottles can play a vital part in medical relief in Haiti and elsewhere.

Evanston Lions club member John Kessler invited Mr. Regis to the Jan. 17 Lions Club meeting to talk about Haiti and how used pill bottles could help the Relief Project. Mr. Kessler also said he would like the Evanston Lions Club to take on collecting used pill bottles as a Centennial Project – commemorating the Lions Club’s 100 years of service.

Last summer, Mr. Kessler read an article the vital importance of an item many in this country toss into the recycling: the used pill bottle. He put a box at his front door for neighbors to drop off their old pill bottles – now a basket in the cold weather – and has made collection boxes for several places around the community. He estimates that he has collected about 500 used pill bottles in the past six months.

“People are saying, ‘Thank you,’” Mr. Kessler said at the Lions Club meeting. “They are glad to be making a difference.”  

Lifelong Evanstonian Mr. Kessler and Skokie resident Mr. Regis have a common sanctuary in Hemenway United Methodist Church. Mr. Kessler is a member and a trustee of Hemenway, and Mr. Regis is a member of the Maranatha Seventh-Day Adventists, which meets there on Saturdays. When the two learned of their common interest, collections began in earnest.

“I give the pill bottles to Mr. Regis, and he sends them to Haiti,” Mr. Kessler said.

“I don’t know that John knows exactly what he’s done, but he’s done so much,” Mr. Regis said.

Jan. 12 was a solemn day for people from Haiti, said Huberto Almonord, who sits on the board of the Relief Project. It was the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that demolished much of the country. Mr. Regis’s wife lost 35 members of her family that day, he said.

Although a lot of money has been collected for relief for Haiti, Mr. Regis and Mr. Almonord said they felt that not enough had been done, so they began this organization. At their own expense they ship supplies, mostly medical, to Haiti, Mr. Almonord said.

Mr. Regis and Mr. Almonord said they are seeking donations of supplies and money. “I know there are many Americans who would love to help Haiti,” Mr. Almonord said. “You can’t imagine how poor they are. They’ve been victims of hurricanes, the earthquake, political upheaval …Haitians are the most resilient people you could ever know.”

Even if this collection effort does not rise to being a Lions Club Centennial project, Mr. Kessler and Mr. Regis say they are grateful that the pill bottles are coming in and making a difference in this small and devastated Caribbean country

To Help

The Sunrise Lions Club asks that anyone who would like to partner with them contact John Kessler, or Dan Nishibun,