No offense to teens who spend their Friday evenings playing video games and Saturday mornings sleeping in … the Oak Ridge High School Interact Club members have better things to do.
Last week the students spent hours giving their time and energy to children they will likely never meet. About a dozen club members shopped at Target Friday, fulfilling Christmas wishes for Remi Vista Youth and Family Services’ young clients. They bought presents – from toy helicopters to new shoes – for six children, ages 2 to 18.
“It was so fun,” said Uma Dingankar, 16.
“I think hopefully we’re going to make a better Christmas, or awesome Christmas (for the kids),” added Ashlee Gonzales, 16.
The fun continued Saturday morning when Interact members gathered at Oak Ridge’s cafeteria to wrap presents and make blankets for Remi Vista’s children and Project Linus. About 50 students gave up part of their weekend to make dozens of blankets.
These service projects are just a drop in the bucket of what Interact accomplishes every school year. Last year members completed more than 2,600 community service hours.
“It’s inspiring to see these young adults so energetic about helping other people, locally and around the world,” said Bill Tobin, Interact advisor from the sponsoring Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills.
Interact, which replaced Oak Ridge’s Key Club six years ago, has about 150 freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in its membership this year. Rotary International lists the club’s goals as:
• Developing leadership skills and personal integrity
• Demonstrating helpfulness and respect for others
• Understanding the value of individual responsibility and hard work
• Advancing international understanding and goodwill
Oak Ridge’s club accomplishes these goals through recycling programs, Adopt-A-Family, Rebuilding Together, the annual Mito Kids Walk and more. While participating in community service projects looks good on a resume, Interact Club President Tim Lo said, “I know quite a few members who genuinely care about what we’re doing as a club.”
“It’s fun (to give back),” said Axel Peralta, 17.
“You meet new friends,” chimed in Bevyn Cassidy, 15.
“And help others at the same time,” added Gonzales.