• 57°

Waiting for mom

David Markins and Ryan O’Leary do everything together.

Tuesday, October 12, 1999

David Markins and Ryan O’Leary do everything together. The second-graders are in the same class at Whitwell Elementary School, and ride bicycles together after school – except on Tuesdays. Tuesdays, the two attend the Adventure Club at First Baptist Church of Ironton.

"I like it, because we learn about Jesus," David said.

"And it’s fun, too," Ryan added.

The church began its latch key program nine years ago, because of a need pastor Dennis Strawn said he saw in the community.

"We realized that a lot of kids have parents who work," Strawn said. "Or, the children just need something to do in the afternoons. So we provide a snack, sing songs, do bible story activities and crafts. We do it as an outreach program to grade school children."

Elementary school children from Whitwell and Kingsbury are bused in or walk to the church at 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday, while middle school students arrive at about 3:15 p.m. and leave at about 4:30 p.m.

The program is open to any Ironton child who would like to attend, and is non-denominational, Strawn added.

"We want to say to the community that we like children and we want to make a difference," he said. "We can’t do it every evening, but we can do it once a week."

Kingsbury Elementary School second-grader Ashley Fowler and third-graders Candice Akers and Jamie Jenkins enjoyed their after school snack of milk and cookies Tuesday at the church while waiting for the activities to begin.

"We’re going to play bingo today," Ashley said. "We do fun stuff here."

But not every child wanted to participate in the coloring contests, bingo or puzzles. Jamie brought her own activity to do.

"I like to read," she said as she pulled a book from her bag. "We went to the library today and I got a book to read."

Offering activities, or a place for the children to do their own thing, while teaching moral lessons is a community service of which many of the church’s members are proud, said Marie Gool, a church member and Adventure Club volunteer.

"I like being here and I enjoy the children," Mrs. Gool said. "Sometimes it gets a little noisy, but you can see the love in their eyes. I’m glad to see our church do something like this."

And word of the program does get around, said Amber Bazell, a Kingsbury Elementary School second-grader.

"I just started this year, because I thought it would be fun," Amber said. "My brother told me it would be fun. He’s 10, and he’s been coming here since he was in the first grade."