Medora after-school program hosts Gratitude Gathering



As he chowed down on a Thanksgiving meal, Evan Childers thought about things for which he is thankful.

He was glad he could enjoy good food at Medora Community Schools’ Gratitude Gathering, which was conducted by the Reach for a Star after-school program for the second year in a row Monday night in the cafeteria.

The kindergartner also is thankful for the two people sitting next to him, his grandparents, Debra and Walter Weddle. And he can’t forget about his dog.

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“It’s Thanksgiving,” he said.

The Weddles also thought about things for which they are grateful.

“We wanted to hang out with him,” Debra said, smiling while looking at her grandson. “We’re glad that after six years, we got him to be in our home and get to know him.”

Walter agreed.

“I’m thankful that schools have stuff like this,” he said. “I think the after-school program is good. They learn and do activities, and they get to hang out with their friends, interact with different people.”

The Weddles recently moved from Brownstown to Medora, so Walter said the event gave them a chance to get to know other families and students.

Ange Arthur, outreach coordinator for the after-school program and parent outreach coordinator for the school, said that’s one of the reasons they started the Gratitude Gathering last year and decided to do it again.

“Last year, just talking to the students, some of them didn’t have opportunities like Thanksgiving, so we thought we’ll try it and see how it goes,” she said. “We had such a wonderful response to it, we thought, ‘Well, we’ll just start making this an annual thing.'”

It was just for after-school students and their families last year, but Arthur said it was open to the whole school this time.

“It’s just another way for us to encourage family bonding at a traditional dinner,” Arthur said. “These kids look to bond with each other and families, and I think it helps, too, because it’s not just one family sitting at a table here and building that interaction. Especially with PlayStations and video games and phones and all of those things, it’s a good way to promote just that face-to-face verbal interaction.”

As she served food and watched students and families interact, Arthur said it made everyone feel like a big family.

“It’s just nice to see them in this setting and to be able to interact with them in more of a relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t have necessarily everyday interaction with these kids because of what I do, so it’s nice for me to be able to have a different interaction with them.”

Arthur said she is thankful for State Bank of Medora and Walmart for helping make the event possible. They provided donations for the school to buy the food, which included five hams, four large cans of green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy and desserts. There also was corn donated by Shannon Hunsucker, district coordinator for the after-school program.

“Denny (Wayman), pretty much if I go to him with an idea, he’s like, ‘How can I help?'” Arthur said of the president of the bank. “He is the cornerstone in that and is always like, ‘Don’t ever not ask.’ He’s great.”

Christina Tomey, sponsor of the high school’s DELTA Club, also helped serve food and shared what she is thankful for: Family and co-workers.

She also is grateful to have a job where she gets to help students.

“I just like seeing the kids get to sit down with their families,” she said. “I like the community engagement aspect of it. It helps cement what we have going on in the community and helps parents feel welcome. I hope they all at the end of the day actually feel like after-school cares about them.”

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What: Community Thanksgiving dinner

When: 5 to 8 p.m. today

Where: Community Church of Brownstown, 117 W. Tanner St., Brownstown

Who: Open to everyone

Information: If you are in need of a meal delivered or would like to volunteer or donate, call or text Missy at 812-528-1189, Mike Weiler at 812-498-2722 or Terry Fordice at 812-216-3836

What: Free Thanksgiving meal

When: 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: First Baptist Church, 505 Community Drive, Seymour

Who: Open to everyone

Information: To find out how you can be a part of The Alley’s Thanksgiving or if you are in need of a ride to the meal or need a meal delivered, call Sara Bowling at 812-946-0258


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