GUYTON — The impact of South Effingham High School’s Interact Club extends well beyond the walls of the room where it meets.
Club members recently raised $1,525 for Casa de Mariposas, an orphanage for abandoned babies in Honduras. The Rotary Club of Effingham County chipped in the last $75. The rest was collected from students in the school.
“Every morning, we would take bottles to each class and collect change,” Interact Club President Priyal Patel said. “It took almost a whole week. We are really glad that we got that much.”
The orphanage will use the money to purchase supplies.
The club was also active during Red Ribbon Week last fall. Some its events were fun but one was meant to be sobering.
“We put a casket on the stage so that when you looked over into it you saw yourself,” said Madelyn Smith, club treasurer.
“Usually, people don’t pay attention to Red Ribbon Week,” Patel interjected. “As a club, it was something that we really wanted to emphasize because drugs and alcohol can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives.”
In April, the club will conduct Jeans Day. It got permission to charge students $1 for permission to wear jeans to school. The money raised will be donated to Relay for Life and Susan G. Komen, organizations that combat cancer.
Several Interact Club members recently served as pages in the Georgia General Assembly.
“I absolutely loved it,” said Ellie Gordon, club secretary. “I thought it was really cool to see everyone in a position of power getting things done.”
Each club member was surprised by how the legislature operates.
“It was nothing like I thought it would be, nothing like I was taught in class,” said Matthew Brown, who worked in the Senate. “It was kind of hectic.”
“I thought it was supposed to be so in order and very serious,” Patel added. “A lot of the senators were just out and about walking around. We had to track them down to give them their messages.”
The club members said they walked around nervously, not wanting to go into an area that was off limits to them.
“I thought (the legislators) were so powerful but they are just normal people,” Patel said. “I thought they treated us with respect. Overall, it was a good experience.”
Patel recommends that all students serve as pages.
“I got to do it because of (Interact Club advisor) Ms. Becky (Alford) but, actually, any kid from the age of 12 to 18 can do it,” she said.
The club members said they enjoyed meeting local Reps. Jon Burns and Bill Hitchens. None of them are interested in following their political footsteps, however.
“That’s not my piece of cake,” Brown said.
Still, all agreed that meeting the lawmakers was beneficial.
“You can make connections,” Patel said. “They were very nice and said, ‘If you need anything, you can come to me.’ I thought that was really cool.”
Interact Club members made it clear that they believe their organization is the best one on the South Effingham campus.
“I’m not bashing other clubs — like the Video Game Club, for example — but kids are in most of them because they have an interest in it. (Interact) is all for the community. Kids come together to help out our community,” Patel said.
Brown, also a member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society, said Interact participation is fun. He enjoys helping with the Special Olympics.
Members said the club is like a family.
“In a lot of club meetings, just officers do all the talking,” Brown said. “We all talk and have fun at our meetings. We keep things fun and professional at the same time.”
“I feel like we are one of the most interactive clubs,” added Smith, blushing a bit after realizing she had delivered quite a pun.