By Kim Turner, Communications Director
Twenty-seven children ranging in grades K-5 gather at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Claymont every Monday-Thursday for after-school enrichment through the EDGE Ministries program.
EDgemoor Gardens Empowerment (EDGE) Ministries is an outreach ministry to the church’s neighbors in the Edgemoor Gardens community of North Wilmington; serving to inspire, empower and equip residents to transform their lives and their community.
This after-school program is funded thanks to grants. Thankfully, there is no charge to students and their families to participate in the program! Last year, funding only enabled children to attend the program twice a week, but for the 2016-2017 school year, the church was able to secure enough funding to support the program for all children four days a week!
Heather Popo, a staff member at the church, helps run the after-school program.
Every week day just before 3:15 p.m., Heather and her staff walk across the street to Mt. Pleasant Elementary School to pick up the kids.
I joined Heather and Lyn, another after-school teacher, for the walk over.
We went from room to room greeting program participants. A small line of kindergarten students began to form as we traveled the school hallways to pick up the other kids. The older kids congregated in a hallway as they waited for our arrival with the younger kids.
As we gathered, I asked the little ones how their day was. It was the day after Halloween, so there was lots of talk of trick-or-treating from the night before!
One little boy even asked if I would hold his hand!
Heather pointed out that the program is “essential” for those participating.
Several headcounts later, Heather and Lyn determine that all of the kids were present. It was time to walk back across the street.
Once inside the church, the children separated into three class groups, kindergarten, 1st and 2nd and 3rd to 5th. Snacks for the after-school program are provided by the Food Bank of Delaware through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Each day, a Food Bank driver delivers coolers filled with milk and snacks to the church.
On my particular visit, the children enjoyed milk and applesauce.
“The kids very much look forward to it [the meal],” said Heather. “And a lot of times they are very hungry, so we know there is a need.”
While the students ate, classroom teachers asked about their day before beginning the day’s activity.
In the kindergarten class, the conversation was Halloween, of course!
Jasmine told the group that she went trick or treating and saw a puppet show, and Brandon went to a house that scared him last year, but not this year!
Before I left, I stopped by the 1st and 2nd grade class and 3rd-5th class. The 3rd-5th graders sat around a table, discussing a positive and negative aspect of the day! Fortunately for the students, there were only positives to be talked about!
In addition to the snack and a daily activity, children also receive help with homework if needed.
When 5:30 p.m. rolls around, it’s time for the kids to head home. Thanks to a partnership with the Bellevue Community Center, a bus takes the students back to Edgemoor Gardens.
To learn more about our after-school meal program, please click here!