Volunteer Programs: Residents with dementia organize a food drive

The idea: These assisted living residents who have dementia, decided to volunteer their time to organize and carry out a food bank drive, with surprising results.

My name is Kerry Mills. I am a Dementia Coach and train caregivers in long term care and memory care, as well as family caregivers. I want to pass along information about a program that I witnessed that empowered people with dementia to volunteer their time and energy.


Working with the Program Director at an assisted living home, a group of 8 or 9 men and women with dementia decided that for the month of October, they wanted to collect food for their local food pantry.  During their meeting, they decided to call their local grocery store and ask if they could stand outside and collect food and after this, they wrote a flyer that would be given to shoppers. 

They stood outside the grocery store for three days and collected over 30 bags of food.  On the way home from the grocery store on the last day, someone suggested that they get a gift for the store manager for letting them do this.  They then called the local movie theatre and asked if they would donate two tickets, to which the theatre happily said yes.  The committee laughed as they discussed now, what would they do for the movie theatre manager?

After all the food was collected, a group of four men and women, plus two staff, arrived with all their bags of food at the local food pantry and in front of the entire 20 person staff, they read a note stating that they stood outside in rain and wind in order to collect this food for those in their community who needed it.  There was not a dry eye in the place and the staff at the food pantry could not express their gratitude with words.  On the way home, the committee stopped by the grocery store to deliver the movie tickets, and coupons for free popcorn and soda!  The manager was most delighted, but was especially surprised when one of the committee planted a huge kiss right on his cheek! 

I hope that other professinal caregivers and activity directors will be inspired by this program and realize the potential of their residents with dementia to have an impact on their communities.


Published on 14 February 2012
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