Interact Club Faces the Elements for a Good Cause
Trenton High School students and Rotary Club members spent the night outside collecting clothing, food and money for the less fortunate.
Sitting outside in freezing temperatures in the dark may not be everyone's favorite way to spend the wee hours of a weekend morning, but members of the Trenton Interact Club proved they were up to the task to support a great cause.
For 24 hours the weekend before Christmas, from 10 a.m. Dec. 18 to 10 a.m. Dec. 19, teen-age members of the Interact Club took their spot in the parking lot of McLouth Park next to Martenson Funeral Home for their 10th annual Jingle Drive. They collected clothing, blankets, food, money and toys for the less fortunate.
"It's a cool project," said Bruce Jocks, a Trenton certified accountant who is advisor to the Interact Club from its parent group, the Rotary Club of Trenton. "They sort of experience what it is to be homeless and at the same time do good things for the homeless."
Interact is Rotary International's service club for people ages 14-18. Trenton Rotarians provide support and guidance, but the teens are self-governing and self-supporting. Trenton High School senior David Stockard, who has been a club member since he was a freshman, is Interact president.
Interact, established in 1995, gives members the opportunity to participate in fun, meaningful service projects while developing leadership skills and meeting new friends, Jocks said.
"It's basically a Rotary Club for high school students," Jocks said. "We try to do fun projects and try to do them across the board … We try to open their eyes, to let them know there are people who need help and this is how you can help them."
Interact is scheduled to meet twice a month. Jocks said the other goals of the club are to develop personal integrity, demonstrate helpfulness and respect for others, understand the value of individual responsibility and hard work, and advance international understanding and goodwill.
"Also, in my opinion, it makes today's youth aware of Rotary and the ability to give back to the community and the world," Jocks said.
Many Interact Club members of the past are leaders today. Advisor Chad Clements is a history teacher at Trenton High School. He was a charter member of the club.
Today, there are about 150 dues-paying members of the Interact Club, although not all are the core workers. Jocks said they include academic, sports-minded and civic-minded students. Many are members of the National Honor Society.
Interact members are required to pay just $3 in annual dues and participate in two projects a year: one international project and one that shows community service. In October, they raised $350 in a car wash to purchase school supplies for the needy in Nicaragua – a target of Rotary, which sends a medical team to provide assistance.
The Jingle Drive in December brought in clothing that was donated to the Society of St. Vincent DePaul, which provides goods and services to persons in need; non-perishable food for the Trenton Food Pantry; financial donations for ChristNet, a faith-based homeless shelter program; and toys for the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program. Jocks said it is important to remember that families – including children – are homeless, too.
Jocks said club members go way beyond the required two projects. They also:
- Construct a scarecrow for the Trenton Scarecrow Festival.
- Hold a pancake breakfast fundraiser. The next one, which is open to the public, is scheduled for April.
- Participate in Relay for Life, a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, and Stream Team, which cleans up area waterways.
- Hold a bowl-a-thon to raise funds to combat cystic fibrosis in February or March.
- Plant trees throughout the city in conjunction with the Rotary Club.
Club members also schedule fun outings playing dodgeball and laser tag.
"We kind of let the kids do what they want to do and we help steer them in the right direction," said Jocks. "This is my biggest commitment to Rotary."
About the Rotary Club of Trenton
The Trenton Rotary Club, founded in 1937, is one of the Downriver area's oldest and most active service organizations. The 80 Rotarians support more than 50 organizations through financial contributions and/or volunteer efforts. They have won numerous awards for their work. The Rotary meets at noon Mondays at the Westfield Activities Center, 2700 Westfield, Trenton. For information, visit www.TrentonRotary.net.