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St. Luke UMC to host after-school program

St. Luke United Methodist Church invites all students in grades K-6 to attend an eight-week After School Club program titled “Come Join the Circle.”

The program starts Wednesday, Jan. 16, and meets each week from 2 to 5:30 p.m. It will feature various activities, such as: recreation, Bible story time, crafts, snacks, music, board games, study time and a free meal is provided.

The church invites parents to attend the dinner as well.

“It’s like vacation bible school,” Pastor Audrey Young said. “It’s a lot of fun. (We have) a lot of games, (and) a lot of music.”

The church also provides an area for children to work on their homework. Young said homework is an important issue for many students.

The majority of students stay for the food, and sometimes their families join.

The church does not charge family members who want to attend the dinner. Young said St. Luke wants to provide a fun, safe environment, in which students can learn about the word of God.

“We have nutritious meals,” Young said. “It’s not all hot dogs and mac and cheese. They (members) love to make desserts. There was some kind of apple and berry sauce. (It was) over ice cream. It was so good.”

The biggest event, which takes place in August, is the ice cream social. It features hotdogs, chips, watermelon and homemade ice cream. Although the social is free, the church accepts donations.

“That’s what supports our program,” Young said about the ice cream social. “Our entire staff is (made up of) volunteer(s). Many of them are retired public school educators. That keeps our standards up there — with the use of public school educators.”

For snacks, the church sometimes has a theme to go with it. Young said that one theme involved animals, and the children made their food look like them.

“St. Luke is an amazing congregation,” Young said. “They care about kids having a safe place to go after school.”

Although the program does not increase regular church attendance, Young is happy to use the outreach to spread the word of God.

St. Luke holds large vacation Bible groups and Young wants to keep their kid friendly image going.

“We’re the church that’s known as the kid-friendly church,” Young said. “That’s been our reputation. It’s not only the elementary age children; we had over the years, huge youth fellowships.”

The youth fellowship volunteered for Habitat For Humanity, and built ramps for handicapped.

In order to attend for the After School Club, parents must sign up and designate who will be picking up the child.

“We require copies of immunizations records,” Young explained. “We make sure kids are checked in and out by a designated person, so there is a safety factor.”

Many local businesses donated goods to help.

“We have been gifted by Walmart, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Culver’s, Dairy Queen and Domino’s Pizza,” Young said.

The church also offers a carpool program, for those who cannot drop off their child.

The program is not meant to be only for Methodists. All members of religious affiliations are invited to attend. Parents can pick up registration forms at St. Luke United Methodist Church located at 501 E. 19th St. N. in Newton or call (641) 792-5736.

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