Local Interact Clubs serve Bitterroot communities.
Interact is the high school and junior high youth program and student service organization for Rotary that has over 15,000 Interact Clubs in 142 countries.
The Hamilton Rotary Club sponsors Interact Clubs in Darby High School and Corvallis High School.
According to the Rotary International website it is a nonprofit organization and “global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”
Rotary President Steve Kice said Interact teaches youth leadership skills while discovering Rotary’s motto of “service above self.”
“The benefit to the community is introducing the next generation of volunteers that care for the place they live in and the world around them,” Kice said.
Darby Interact advisor Bryan Dufresne said Interact has tremendous value because it is a service club that teaches students to put community first.
“The entire mission is to help the local community and the global community,” Dufresne said. “As our society seems to becoming more and more polarized because of our differences, Interact reminds students to think of others. By teaching kids to think selflessly, we create a better world."
DHS Interact president Hayden Hunter said the club has 15 to 20 members focused on local service each year.
“We just finished the food drive and raised 600 pounds of food,” Hunter said. “We’ve done it the last three years as a competition between the high school and elementary school to give incentive.”
Interact club does one international project each year.
“Last year our project was the water project where we helped fund a well for a family that didn’t have any water in another country,” Hunter said. “We target several local issues each year also.”
This year projects included a food drive, pennies for Leukemia with student council, a pie sale and silent auction to help a local family involved in a car wreck, dinner at Ronald McDonald house and a Community Assistance Team.
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“Our goal is to make a team where anyone in the community can call if they need help with anything and we can send people out,” she said. “Obviously that’s a liability and we’re trying to figure out how to help people because everyone in Interact wants to help people. That’s what is great about Interact, everyone there is there because they want to be.”
Hunter said that every year Interact hosts a Community Service Day.
“We go out and ask the community what things we can help with,” she said. “Last year we cleaned up the roads, cleaned up the parks and planted for a business and the Darby Greenhouse Program helped with that.”
Corvallis High School Interact advisor Alyce Leonardi said community service is needed.
“Interact not only provides teenagers with the opportunity to give back to their communities but it also teaches responsibility and emphasizes reliability to follow through with commitments,” Leonardi said. “The people who count on us every year deserve our full attention to purpose and effort no matter the size of the project.”
The Interact Club is the largest club at CHS with over 80 members completing a variety of community service projects throughout the year.
CHS Interact cleans a two-mile stretch of Eastside Highway twice a year through the Adopt-A-Highway program. In November members collected 1,624 pounds of nonperishable items for Haven House. In December members helped the Daly Mansion with the Community Christmas Party and teamed up with Rotary members to ring bells over four Saturdays in December to collect money for their Christmas for Kids project.
Leonardi said Interact was able to provide Christmas presents to four Corvallis families during the holiday season and, through a partnership with Bitter Root Disposal, delivered 10 brand new bicycles to children who live in the Corvallis School District.
Recent projects include helping with the Winter Special Olympics held at Lost Trail and they have a paper products drive for the SAFE House in Hamilton in March. In April, Interact members will stuff 400 eggs with candy and host an Easter Egg Hunt for the children who live at the SAFE House.
The CHS Interact Club will end the school year by assisting the Daly Mansion with their Mother’s Day Tea event.
CHS Interact president Michael McKay said the monthly service projects make the community a better place.
“There are no requirements to join, just a pulse and a heart for service,” McKay said. “It has been so neat to see how all of us have worked together to change the community.”