Designed to empower students to help those in need in their communities, this new club has seen phenomenal growth in just 12 months. Launched last year for those in Years 7 to 13, the student-run programme has already increased from 12 to 32 members.
With a family legacy of service and philanthropy, club president and Year 11 student Katelyn Bedford believes initiatives like Interact deliver a number of intrinsic rewards.
“I like being involved in Interact because I think it is important that we learn to recognise and find ways to support the people who are less fortunate than us,” she says. “A personal motivator for me was my grandparents. They were heavily involved in many service organisations, and I want to honour their memory by doing the same. There’s also the personal benefits – helping others makes you feel pretty great.”
As the secondary school branch of Rotary, Interact Club aims to support and raise awareness of charities and other like-minded organisations. Not only that, but it provides fresh opportunities for students to contribute in significant ways to their school and the wider community.
For students at ACG Tauranga, the club has already made a powerful impact. In 2020 it supported both Youthline and the Tauranga Community Foodbank, with fundraising drives that exceeded expectations.
“Last year we ran a competition between tutor groups and Primary classes to raise money for the foodbank. I was totally overwhelmed by the generosity we encountered,” explains Humanities teacher and club facilitator Nicky Gawler. “I’d thought that at the end of the food drive, I’d be able to fill up my car and drop the items off, but we collected over 1500 items, and the foodbank had to come and collect everything in their own truck!”
After experiencing a huge rise in calls after lockdown, raising funds for Youthline was another focus of the Interact Club who organised a highly successful homemade sweets and treats bake sale.
“The Interact students made the sweets and treats themselves, and some of the Primary students wanted to be involved too, so donated some baking they’d done. We raised $315 – quite an impressive effort for a group of 12!”
According to Nicky, the club’s fundraising efforts have had a strong ripple effect across the school.
“I think they have raised student awareness of the Interact Club. And also perhaps their awareness of what’s going on in the community due to Covid-19. There are constant news stories of people struggling, and I think this is why the club has seen such growth.”
And it’s not just the charities that are benefitting. The club members build empathy, develop their organisational skills, and even boost their marketing and finance expertise. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
So, what’s in the pipeline for the Interact Club in 2021?
“We recently supported Rotary with their annual Duck Race, where 5000 sponsored rubber ducks were released along the waterfront in a hotly contested competition. And we are currently planning a trial programme with Age Concern Tauranga where students work one-to-one with an older person to help improve their IT skills in meaningful ways so that they can connect with family via tools such as FaceTime and Zoom.”
Additionally, the Interact club has identified four leading charities (RSPCA, St Johns, Starship Hospital and Women’s Refuge) they wish to support for the remainder of the year. Among club members, there’s no shortage of bright ideas for all they want to achieve
Says vice-president Imaanay Anees, “For 2021, we want to increase student awareness of those who are struggling in our community and hope to encourage greater student participation in service opportunities as the year progresses. As a group, our next step is to contact our chosen charities to see how we can best support them – then we can take action!”
For additional articles on the success of our students at ACG Tauranga, please visit the following: STEM Curiosity Day and Sport goes from strength to strength at ACG Tauranga