Woodland High School students give back by buying food, clothes, and gifts for families in need

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Students in Woodland High School’s Interact Club along with classmate volunteers spent a Saturday in December buying clothes, foods, and gifts for more than 100 Woodland families in need as part of Rotary’s Annual Christmas Giving Project.

Woodland High School's Interact Club organized 14 student volunteers to buy food, clothes, and gifts for more than 100 needy families.
Woodland High School's Interact Club organized 14 student volunteers to buy food, clothes, and gifts for more than 100 needy families.

During the Christmas Giving Project, Interact Club members receive a budget of donated funds to buy clothes, food, and small gifts for homeless families and students in need throughout Woodland. This year, a total of 14 students volunteered to help shop for more than 100 needy families. “One of my favorite things is seeing how providing boxes of food for families can bring so much happiness,” said Katelyn Beuscher a senior at Woodland High School and Club President. “Interact teaches me to be thankful for what I have and give back whenever I can.”

Katelyn Beucsher, Interact President, and Cooper Kaml, Interact Vice-President, hunted through racks of clothes for the right price on the right clothes.
Katelyn Beuscher, Interact President, and Cooper Kaml, Interact Vice-President, hunted through racks of clothes for the right price on the right clothes.

Lena Edwards, a senior and classmate of Katelyn’s, volunteered to help out during the Christmas Giving Project. “I know what it’s like to not have a lot of money and having a lean Christmas,” she explained. “Whenever I see people sleeping on the streets, I just want to help out.”

Students tried to put themselves in the shoes of the families and kids they were shopping for whenever they selected items. “I tried to make sure that clothes matched when we bought for families with multiple kids because I remember what it’s like to have your sibling receive something you would prefer,” said Edwards. “Also, whenever we could get a great deal on brand-name products, we’d try to pick them up since families in need often can’t buy items like that – having a nice jacket that looks good and is also really warm can provide a lot of comfort.”

Samara Wagner-Lindner, a senior who also volunteered, agrees, “Participating in service events makes me thankful for what I have,” she said. “When I was younger, I often didn’t get brand-name stuff so I like to find popular clothes for families whenever possible; a little self-confidence can make a huge difference.”

Lena Edwards (right) looks over a list of needed items to ensure the students picked up everything families need.
Lena Edwards (right) looks over a list of items to ensure the students picked up everything families need.

The Interact Club participates in several events and fundraisers throughout the year. Each fall, the Interact Club helps the Rotary Club of Woodland with its Gold Leaf Event, a dinner and auction to raise funds for the development and construction of the Scott Hill Park and Sports Complex in Woodland. Throughout the year, club members ring neighbors’ doorbells to raise donations to send students in need to summer camp. “Working with the area’s homeless and families in need helps us understand how difficult it can be to simply make ends meet,” said Beuscher. “We spend many hours out in the cold in the winter fundraising which gives us just a small taste of what it must be like to live on the streets and deal with frigid temperatures all the time.”

Interact members discover the true meaning of giving back to their community. “Taking part in Interact has shown me how volunteering can improve so much throughout Woodland,” said Beuscher, “I joined five years ago after hearing my sister talk about Interact; she introduced me to it and I quickly jumped in!”

Samara Wagner-Lindner, Katelyn Beucsher, Cooper Kaml, and Lena Edwards encourage their classmates to volunteer and discover how small acts of kindness can make a huge difference to their community.
Samara Wagner-Lindner, Katelyn Beuscher, Cooper Kaml, and Lena Edwards encourage their classmates to volunteer and discover how small acts of kindness can make a huge difference to their community.

Cooper Kaml, the club’s Vice President and also a senior this year, has been a member of Interact for two years. “I like being involved with our community and taking part in what may seem like small acts of random kindness,” he explained. “I feel like many people have stopped participating in service organizations, but it’s really important to see the ripple effects volunteer service can have on your friends, neighbors, and community members.”

Wagner-Lindner feels getting involved helps her remember what matters. “As students, we can get so busy focusing on what we need to do for our own lives that we don’t notice those around us who may be suffering,” said Wagner-Lindner. “Volunteering and taking part in Interact helps us see how we can help others while still working on what we need to get done for our own lives, too.”

The Woodland High School Interact Club stems from the local Rotary International branch. Students between the ages of 12 and 18 can join Interact to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self, Rotary International’s fundamental principle. Interact clubs organize at least two projects every year, one that helps their school or community and one that promotes international understanding.

High school and middle school students interested in joining the Interact Club can contact Principal John Shoup via email at shoupj@woodlandschools.org or stop by the main office of Woodland High School for more information. Adults interested in joining the Woodland Rotary Club can find more information from the organization’s website: www.woodlandwarotary.org.

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