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Monday, May 2, 2016

Alton teenager a fan of elderly

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Busing tables at a senior center is more than a nice gesture -- it benefits the youthful helper as much as the elderly patron, Alton Senior Center Director Pam Simpson said.

"It's good for young people to be exposed to a senior center. A lot of them think we just eat and play cards," Simpson said Friday, Aug. 5, of the teens who have volunteered at the center. "It's also good for seniors to see young people doing something good."

While most volunteers are adults, the Alton Senior Center has for the past two months kept 15-year-old Dustin Warren busy doing a variety of tasks at the facility.

Dustin Warren, 15, center, poses with cook Kathy Buckner, left, and head cook Ann Owens in the Alton Senior Center kitchen Friday, Aug. 5. Warren has started a drive for fans to be given to area seniors.
Warren started helping at the center as part of an Alton High School project to earn credit toward the state's A+ Program. When school let out in June, Warren came back, eager to contribute more at the center.

Although he is not enthusiastic about wearing a hairnet, Warren said he enjoys helping in the kitchen, clearing tables or carrying meal trays for center patrons.

"He'll do anything you ask him to," Barbara Nix, Simpson's assistant, said of Warren.

After spending a few months at the center, Warren came up with a plan to gather window fans for elderly or disabled Alton residents who do not have air-conditioning in their homes.

For more than a month, area outside temperatures have been in the mid-90s, with several days topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Warren said he got the idea for the fans from his mother, Crystal Warren, who works at the Department of Family Services in West Plains.

"Mom is trying to get a cooling center here," Warren said.

Warren, who plans to become an emergency medical technician after high school, said he saw a inspirational news story from another area that was seeking donations for fans as outside temperatures hovered at 100 degrees.

Warren began calling area churches, quickly garnering commitments for 20 fans, nine of which had already been dropped off at the center.

"Nine more are on the way," Warren said. "I didn't think this would be this big of a deal."

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, donors can leave fans at the center next to the Alton Post Office. Also from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 16, the center will accept fans.

At the end of the week, the fans will be distributed to those who most need them, Simpson said. Preference will be given to those age 60 and older.

Anyone who needs a fan is asked to call the center.

The center also is collecting old cell phones to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association "Walk to End Alzheimer's" set for Oct. 1 in West Plains. Old phones can be dropped off at the center during business hours.

Anyone interested in donating to the walk or participating can call Simpson at 417-778-7342.