Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alphabet for life

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Our ABC's never leave us.
The letters are there from kindergarten to the nursing home, guiding us through work and leisure.
'That's why literacy is so important,' said Chris Scherer of Temple's Altrusa. 'Quality of life depends on it.'
That's why Altrusa chose literacy as its focus for the 2009-10 club year.
'We want to do everything we can to get the word out that reading is important and fun,' said Mary Black Pearson, club president.
This summer, the club collected reading materials and educational pamphlets on literacy for low-income students returning to school through Project Appletree. And over the last year, they've opened a library at the Wheatley Alternative Education Center.
So when the Thursday Club asked Altrusa to support its ABC Book project, it was a shoe-in fit. 'We were happy to support the project,' Ms. Scherer said.
With a $500 grant from Altrusa, the Thursday Club was able to get all of the supplies required for the book project.
'Paper, scissors, stickers, glue and mini photo albums,' said Joyce McKinney, coordinator of the Thursday Club. 'That's mainly what we needed.'
The ABC Book is a photo album with enough pages for each letter of the alphabet.
'We find magazine pictures of words that start with the letters. A is for apple, and B is for banana and baby,' Ms. McKinney said pointing at some glossy photos.
And on either side of the magazine picture is a sticker of the letter, one capital and one lowercase.
'It's a tool for children to learn how to read,' Ms. McKinney said.
Completed ABC Books are delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in Temple, the lodging that caters to families of children undergoing specialized medical treatment at area hospitals.
'When there are young children staying with us, we give them one of the books,' said Susan Bolton, director of the Ronald McDonald House.
The gift is twofold.
'It helps them learn their letters,' Ms. Bolton said. 'And it can help keep their mind off the sibling who's in the hospital.'
But the good of the book doesn't belong just to the kids.
The participants from the Thursday Club, a day program for adults with Alzheimer's Disease, see just as much benefit.
'It's good mental exercise,' said volunteer Barbara Gregory of Belton, chairwoman of the Thursday Club's ABC committee. 'It helps their memory, as they have to recall the alphabet and match letters with words and pictures.'
It helps them with their dexterity as well.
'Using the scissors and gluing, all of that's good practice for hand-eye coordination,' Ms. Gregory said.
The mental stimulation, however, is not why the Thursday Club participants hunt for magazine pictures.
'They do it because it's for the kids,' Ms. McKinney said. 'These folks will do anything for children. It doesn't matter if it's Easter, Halloween of Christmas. There's always a time to do something for the Ronald McDonald kids.'
One of the participants, Freddie Riggan of Troy, nodded her head.
'I love kids,' Ms. Riggan said. 'And I like finding pictures of flowers.'

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