SALT LAKE CITY —The Judge Memorial Catholic High School Interact Club started this school year putting their faith into action by knitting scarves and hats for those in need.
The Interact Club is part of Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 14 to 18. The Judge Memorial Interact Club recently received a small grant from Clever Octopus, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering creativity and environmental awareness.
Karla Keller, department chair of physical education at the high school and advisor to the Interact Club, learned about the grant’s availability after she visited the nonprofit’s thrift store to purchase classroom supplies.
“They sent out an email saying that they had a mini-grant that they provide for the community, so we filled the application and received the answer that we received a mini-grant, so now they are the sponsors of the birth of this new project,” Keller said.
Grant in hand, Keller had to decide how to use it.
“I wanted to have a project in which at the business meeting that we have the kids keep busy; they don’t just come in and listen,” said Keller, so now from the moment the club members enter the room for their bi-monthly meeting, they get a loom and start knitting as the meeting runs its course.
Every year the Interact Club members choose an organization that will benefit from their annual fundraiser. Each of the club’s four officers nominates a candidate. One of these candidates is then chosen through a club-wide vote. Because the school year has barely started, no decision has been made yet about which organization will receive the hand-knitted scarves and hats being made by the students.
The Salt Lake Rotary provides support and guidance to the Judge Memorial Interact Club, which is self-governing and self-supporting. Over the years the club has raised thousands of dollars and participated in a variety of service projects, locally and internationally.
“The requirement [for the club] is to provide for the local community, but we are also required to do one service project for the international community,” Keller said. For example, for its international project one spring, the club raised more than $8,000 for the Mexican state of Chiapas when 33 towns there were devastated by an earthquake. Another year they raised funds to help build a school in Cambodia. They also have done service projects in Bolivia, India, Sudan and Thailand, among other countries.
At the local level the Judge Memorial Interact students have worked at the Utah Food Bank, sorting and collecting food. They have distributed dictionaries supplied by the Rotary Club to local public schools; they also have collected and distributed toys for local Christmas projects among many other projects.
These activities are included in the club’s annual community service outreach projects, which include monthly projects with local non-profit organizations and schools.