"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
- Mahatma Gandhi
For the Thanksgiving holiday, the members of Springstead High School Interact Club organized a food drive. The Interact Club focuses on community service and completes projects that 'give back' to the community. They collected approximately 250 paper grocery bags filled up with non-perishable food items from the generous residents of Pristine Place. Club members were also given an allotted number of bags to fill with donations and returned over 100 bags of food. The bags of food were then donated to the Salvation Army. Interact Club President, Jason Bienstock, led the food drive efforts for the Interact Club.
Bienstock, a Senior this year, has been a member of Interact Club since he was a freshman. Jason remarked that interest in the club has really picked up this year as they have over 80 members. He said that Mrs. Guerrier, the teacher in charge of the club, has a lot to do with that.
Mrs. Guerrier is spunky and energetic. It's her first year running the Interact Club, but she ran the Brain Bowl for 13 years while teaching at Challenger. She had a connection with the Rotary Club of Spring Hill through Brain Bowl. When she came to Springstead, the Rotary Club of Spring Hill expressed an interest in rejuvenating the Interact Club. They are the sponsoring organization for the Interact Club and some of their members attend Interact Club meetings in order to provide guidance to the students.
"The kids in the beginning they really weren't sure what they were joining. I knew they wanted to do something for the community," Guerrier explained.
"What I love is that the Rotary is our model. They are our guide and they show us what we can do within the community, beyond the community and then even internationally," said Guerrier.
There are several committees students can join based on where their interests lie. In addition to the food drive committee, there is a car wash committee, holiday planning, decorators, t-shirt designers, Brain Bowl, party planners, campus beautification and idea coordination committees.
Victoria Harding, a Junior, is the club secretary and a member of the club's leadership team.
"Being a really busy student, it's hard to find volunteer opportunities," Victoria said.
"Interact allows me to volunteer with a little bit more flexibility," she remarked.
This year, club members are also planning to work in the soup kitchen in Brooksville, help at the Brain Bowl, run a Christmas Angels program and partner with Rotary in purchasing Christmas gifts for needy children at Target. Mrs. Guerrier says there are about 15-20 Interact members who will be participating. Then there is the holiday party on Dec. 5th, where students will be collecting donations for a staff member in need of a liver transplant through the Help Hope Live organization.
Rayaan Kader is the underclass president for the Interact Club and stated, "I've been trying to participate in everything as much as possible."
Learning the value of leadership, he said, "When I got my own peers together, I didn't realize how much we can actually accomplish."
"They want to be here, they are excited about it, they want to do things. It gets me excited as well. Many of these young people are wanting to be part of our National Honor Society. The four tenets are character, service, leadership and academics. One of the main difficulties in getting into National Honor Society is leadership. This club gives students the opportunity to showcase leadership and also character," explained Mrs. Guerrier.
The club meets twice a month on a Wednesday. "It's a little crazy when you come here sometimes on a Wednesday, but we manage it. We're getting things done. They are an amazing group," said Mrs. Guerrier.
They start each meeting with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
Mike Prescott, Rotary Club of Spring Hill President, remarked, "These kids do some wonderful things in our community to help those most in need. We try to instill in them at an early age the importance of giving back. Hopefully, most of them carry this fine trait into adulthood."