LUTHER — For 25 years, members of the Luther United Methodist Church have been reaching out to Luther area youth through Monday School, providing kids with activities, Bible lessons, a meal, songs and an atmosphere to learn and grow.

"We provide children a faith-based educational program and a nurturing atmosphere in mission for Christ," said Karen Neiger, who helps oversee Monday School.

Every Monday during the school year, participating Luther area kids who attend Pine River Area Schools or Baldwin Community Schools are dropped off at the church after school. They have playtime outdoors, and then enjoy a meal in the church basement, followed by lessons and activities.

"We are very proud of serving the children of the community for 25 years," Neiger said. "Students from Hillsdale College visited our church during their retreat at Rockwell Lake recently, and they couldn't believe we have been going for 25 years. We have wonderful helpers who make it possible. Every time we thought we would have to shut down, something miraculously comes through to keep us going."

This week volunteer teachers, Nickie Crumb, Neiger, Arlene Stafford and Val Fisher helped with lessons, assisted the children in crafts and served tacos.

"St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Luther has been donating food for the meals," Nieger said.

Students made a card for teacher Shirley Flynn, who hasn't been able to attend because of illness.

The lesson was about love and serving others, and children were asked what they could do to show love.

"I can show love by picking up trash in the playground and classroom," said Leah Chahulski.

Stafford told the students she shows love by visiting those who need cheer.

"I show love by visiting Shirley Flynn," she told the students. "She says, 'hi' to each of you and says she loves you."

Crumb said the students also help out with the program and recently made their own rules for Monday School.

"They came up with their own rules. If they act up, we remind them of the rules they made, including no screaming, no running inside, no bad words, no being rude, no talking when a teacher is talking, no back talking, be respectful, treat others like you want them to treat you, be a good example, be nice, kind and helpful and use inside voices," she said.