Annual White Cane Day raises funds for the visually impaired

Mother Elaine Nichols, left, and daughter Rachel Nichols, right, both members of the Williamstown Lions Club collect donations Monday during the club’s annual White Cane Day fundraiser in Williamstown. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

WILLIAMSTOWN — For nearly a century, the Lions Clubs around the world have worked to help those with sight issues and blindness and one local club continued its efforts to help.

The Williamstown Lions Club held its annual White Cane Day fundraising event on Monday at the intersection of West Virginia 14 and Highland Avenue, in front of Da Vinci’s restaurant in Williamstown.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Labor Day, Lions members holding white canes and collection buckets collected donations at the intersection from passing drivers.

Jay Houser, president of the Williamstown Lions Club, said different clubs hold their White Cane Day programs throughout the month of September, but the Williamstown club has always found Labor Day to be a good time to do it.

“We’ve done this probably 20 years,” he said, relying on support and good will from the communities of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Williamstown Lions Club member Stella Johnson holds a white cane and a collection bucket Monday during the White Cane Day fundraiser held by the Williamstown Lions Club at W.Va. 14 and Highland Avenue in Williamstown. (Photo by Wayne Towner)

“As they drive by, they put whatever they want to in our cans and we give them the little white canes that symbolize what the blind use. I actually had a little blind girl in the back seat show me her white cane and that made my day. Her mother explained how they are in Wood County and how the Lions Club and the (Wood County) school district have been very helpful to this little girl.”

Houser said the club raises an average of $3,000 each year through White Cane Day. The club holds a variety of fundraisers each year for different initiatives and programs through Lions but the White Cane Day is the only one dealing with the local club’s sight programs.

About a third of the money raised will be used by the local club for its program to provide eye exams and eyeglasses for those needing assistance in the Williamstown school district, he said.

“We use it to fund all of our sight projects throughout the year. This one day takes care of all of the moneys collected for our sight work, local eyeglasses and local eye exams,” Houser said.

Another portion is sent to the state level for the West Virginia University Sight Foundation for eye surgery assistance and the rest goes to support the Lions Club International’s efforts to help with sight through Leader Dogs and The Sight First Foundation of Lions Club International.

Formed in 1946, the Williamstown Lions Club has around 35-40 members. The Lions Club’s motto is “We serve,” which means to serve in the local community, to help others and make a difference.

To be in the club, he said, possible members must also want to make a difference in the community. People who are interested in becoming a member of the Williamstown Lions Club can contact the group at or by going to their Facebook page, Williamstown Lions Club.