Interact Club makes huge impact supporting local organizations
Anyone raising money for a nonprofit will tell you it’s a labor intensive, detail oriented, and sometimes personal effort that requires help from a community of supporters. Knowing this, Rotary International came up with one of the great win-win ideas for their clubs worldwide.
Interact Clubs were established in 1962 to bring together young people 12-18 to develop leadership skills, while discovering the importance of community service. Since that time, thousands of city school Interact Clubs have become an important part how Rotary serves others.
In Claremont, students are so proactive Interact Clubs are sprouting up at several schools, with clubs at Claremont High, El Roble and Webb. They each have a teacher and Rotary liaison to help set goals and give input during the school year. For CHS, the Rotary Club of Claremont liaison is Bridget Healy, and the teacher is David Sawhill. Claremont Rotary donates $500 a year to CHS, mostly for T-shirts; if they need anything else, the students figure it out.
Make no mistake, the students run the show, decide what projects to join, meet on a weekly basis, have officers from president to treasurer, and include freshman and sophomores to develop future officers. Currently at CHS there are more than 90 members. It’s the largest club at the school. Senior Melina Tisopulos — who did a wonderful job for us as a COURIER intern reporter earlier this year — is the president. Each member is asked to donate 50 hours a year, with seniors being honored when that number reaches 200. And it doesn’t even stop there, as some students have surpassed 600 hours of service during their time at CHS.
Take a moment to think about the needs they fill. Claremont Rotary’s Taste of Claremont event is the key yearly fundraiser for the club. Last year more than 800 people joined the fun. And it takes an enormous amount of preparation to get ready. Hundreds of chairs and tables are placed, dozens of food vendors need set up help, hundreds of glasses are set up and handed out, and the list continues. “We could not do some of our big activities without their help,” Healy mentioned.
Have a food drive? Interacters help make it happen, receiving and organizing the donations for Inland Valley Hope Partners, set up Scare and Drive Away Hunger decorations for a haunted house fundraiser, stuffed Shelter Boxes for shipping to countries hard hit by natural disasters, raised money for Priceless Pets, Shoes That Fit and volunteered at the Children’s Immigrant Center at the Fairplex. Even the COURIER receives Interact help, as the club sells subscriptions at the weekly Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market, and we split the proceeds with the club. The list of organizations Interact helps in Claremont continues to grow each year.
On December 17, Claremont Rotary sponsored its annual Bill’s Bikes for Kids Giveaway — the story and photos are inside today’s paper and website — with the help of the Interact Clubs. And after seeing the smiles of those kids after being handed a new bike — by an interacter — makes it easy to see how the act of giving can inspire us to help others.