Alpha Club welcomes kids after school

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Alpha Club welcomes kids after school

March 13, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0457}

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

For the third year in a row, children in Crawfordville have a safe place to go after school — Alpha Club at Wakulla United Methodist Church.
"It gives children an opportunity to come and have fellowship in a safe, Christian environment," said Marti Peavey, the program coordinator and wife of the church's pastor, the Rev. John Peavey. "We try to ... include Christian values in all aspects of the program." 

CRAWFORDVILLE — Children participate in an arts and crafts class during an afternoon at the Alpha Club coordinated by Wakulla United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Wakulla United Methodist Church, Photo #06-0321. Web photo only.
Alpha Club meets every Wednesday from 3:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. during the school year and is open to all children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Many of the children do not attend church, and the club serves as the primary Christian influence in their lives, Peavey said. Some children arrive at the church via school bus, while others are dropped off by their parents. About 22 children participate.
"One of the things that we stress is respect and that it's a safe place to be," Peavey said. "They learn to address problems and resolve conflicts in a Christian environment."
The club features plenty of kid-friendly activities — snack time with puzzles and coloring, music and praise sessions, crafts, visits from such community groups as the Humane Society and police and fire departments, Bible study, outdoor free play and dinner prepared by a team of cooks that includes the pastor. Marti Peavey leads the Bible study.
"The children are currently learning the importance of studying the original Hebrew and Greek languages when looking at different translations of the Bible," Peavey said.
Peavey talks to the children about the Bible and the translations and shows age-appropriate videos when they are available. She also invites the children to interact with her as she discusses passages.
"The priority of my message is to walk with God. He's got to be on the inside," she said.
The parents of the children also strongly support the program, which is offered at no cost to the families, Peavey said. Financial support comes from fund-raisers and donated items. Peavey said the program does not have many expenses.
"We serve only child-friendly food so it doesn't get real expensive," she said. "If we need something, we just lift it up to the congregation."
Volunteers serve the dinner with a theme each week. One week, for example, was "backwards" night, with dessert served first. Also, "table parents" sit at each table with the children, getting to know them.

Each table team competes weekly with after-dinner games for the prized "Top Table" trophy to be displayed at their table the next week. And once a month, the group celebrates all the birthdays in that month.

Among the volunteers who keep the program running are Gloria and George Dock, a retired couple whose grandchildren — ages 5 and 8 — also participate in the club.  Gloria works in the kitchen this school year, while George serves as a table parent. Their daughter, Crystle Rudd, coordinates the kids' outdoor activities.

"We've gotten so much feedback from the families when they come ... it's actually brought their families to our church," Gloria Dock said.
Dock said the kids really love the program and enjoy helping in outreach projects, too.
"They'll make things, and we'll pass those along to the nursing homes, and we'll even gather things that can be given out to less fortunate families," she said.
Peavey said she has a staff of about 15 dedicated volunteers like the Docks, many of them senior citizens.
"It builds bridges between ages and people who have never had children," she said.


This article relates to Outreach Ministries.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla.

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