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When Lions Club member and lifelong Evanston resident John Kessler read in a Lions Club newsletter that medical clinics in struggling countries have a need for pill bottles, he put a basket on his front porch and asked his neighbors to drop off any pill bottles they no longer needed. As the word spread, the basket he left on his front porch quickly filled many times over. Mr. Kessler soon realized he needed a bigger venue to handle the donations and ensure that the bottles are clean, label-free and find the means to transport them.
He spoke with Widner Regis who, like Mr. Kessler, is a member of Hemenway United Methodist Church. Mr. Regis is president and one of the founders of the not-for-profit Haitian Family Medical Relief Project, which ships medical supplies, including pill bottles, to Haiti. A Lions Club member, Mr. Kessler also took the pill-bottle project to his chapter, where members endorsed the project, adding their help to the voluntary work of community members. Jane Roth who lives at the Mather, and Betsy Uzzell, a resident at Three Crowns Park, enlisted their friends to collect and clean the bottles. Boxes at First Bank & Trust, Hemenway Church and a few other places drew donations by the hundreds. By early June 10,000 pill bottles were ready for their next lives.
The transportation problem stumped the Lions for a time, but Matthew 25 Ministries, an outreach ministry in Ohio, agreed to accept the pill bottles and send them overseas. Locally, UPS offered a discount on the cost of shipping and the boxes that held them.
On June 13, 10 boxes of scrubbed pill bottles stood in front of Hemenway Church, awaiting the healing hands that will give the bottles, and the patients struggling with poverty and disease, a second chance.