• Jessie Oliveros

Dimes for Alzheimer's

A couple weeks ago, I visited a local elementary school as a guest speaker. They had just completed a dime drive for Alzheimer's. I've done school visits before--but my largest audience thus far has been within the confines of the library and limited to one grade. This was my first experience with an entire school.

Somehow the prospect of speaking to that many kids made me nervous--more nervous than when I spoke to that many adults. I'm not sure why because kids are way more forgiving! But they were a fantastic audience.

I tailored my twenty-minute presentation so that it focused more on my experience with my grandfather, Alzheimer's, and how his journey with the disease inspired The Remember Balloons.

I'm always afraid that I won't have enough content. But in true form, I didn't even have enough time to read through my entire book. However, I made sure the last few pages were read. I like to ask kids if they can tell me what they learn THEY can do by the end of it.

I stress the importance of writing down the stories of the elderly family members and friends in their lives. Draw their stories! Video record or voice record their stories! That is how we hold onto those balloons even if they start to fly away.

At the end of the assembly, the librarian revealed how much the kids had raised from their dime drive. And it was just under $1000! Not bad for mostly dimes. Just a demonstration of how so many littles can make something big!

The money was donated to the memory care center down the street and accepted by their activities director. Here I am with the recipient and a huge jar filled with coins. It took three of us to move it to the car that would transport it to its destination!

It was a very lovely morning. I'm always grateful for the chance to put real life on hold and talk to kids about books!