Stapleton United American Methodist Episcopal Church was having a hard time keeping their after-school program interesting for the low-income youth in their community.
A decade ago, all they needed was board games and tutoring to keep the students entertained. But a changing youth demographic is proving a challenge.
During one recent after-school session, a little boy pulled Battleship out. He looked bewildered by the small pieces. "How do you play this game?" he asked no one in particular. A teenager bopped his head to the music on his headphones. Loud laughter punctuated the cacophony of teenage gossip. At the center of room, a huddle of three students read textbooks - in the eye of the storm. Not far way from them, a girl threw punches at a boy.
"They fight so much. You have to put them in some structured environment otherwise you lose them," said Rev. Maggie Howard who serves at the 210-year-old church. Recently, Howard has been staying home, tired and struggling with high blood pressure, but her presence is often the only thing keeping them from erupting into chaos.
That was until earlier this year when worship leader Buford Carter hatched a new idea -- a local fruit stand run by the children at a busy intersection down the street from the church. There, they set up two long folding tables with boxes of pineapples and mangoes, apples and oranges. About ten youth help with the stand and they've even expanded to serving smoothies and fruit cups.
Church members help run the stand on weekdays, while the youth help after school and during the summer. Prices are competitive and they make around $100 a day. Some locals aren't too happy when they discover that they have to pay for the fruit --- since it is a church-sponsored stand, they expect the fruit to be free.
Daquan Davis, 16, helps with the fruit stand. Davis, with long cornrowed hair, loves football and math. "The stand has helped me see how math is used in business," he said. He also helps tutor younger kids in the church's after-school program.
Carter funded the project out of his own pocket. Even so, the stand might not make money the first year. But Howard is okay with that for now. "This is about more than money, we want to give them an opportunity to see how businesses work," said Howard. "It also teaches kids etiquette and how to be respectful."