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By Jonathan Barone, HU correspondent
Anyone searching for community involvement at Harwood Union High School needn't look far. Although it hasn't obtained a great deal of publicity over the past few years, the Interact club has played an active role in the community and beyond.
Conceived in October 2004 between two members of the Mad River Rotary and the Freshman Class Council, Interact has grown over the years. While at first a group of no more than 10 freshmen, the club has grown to over 25 students over the past three years. The freshmen who helped found Interact are currently seniors, including president Eli Holden, vice president Emma Wade, secretary Emma Soules, treasurer Gabriela Meade and Katie Costello.
Over the past three years, Interact has thought of and participated in several activities to benefit the community. Recently, Interact became involved with WISER (Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research), a project created by students of Duke University to offer a secondary education for underprivileged young women in Muhuru Bay, Kenya. Harwood has become a partner school, committed to raising money for one girl's tuition for four years.
On the whole, however, Interact's biggest project is Gifts of Kindness. Originally envisioned in Interact's second year, Gifts of Kindness is a toy and clothing drive. Once the drive is completed, donations are given to the Battered Women's Shelter and the surrounding homeless shelters of the area.
This year, Gifts of Kindness is spanning four weeks, as it has expanded beyond simply toys and clothes to all necessities of the winter season. For the first two weeks, from November 10 to November 23, Interact is asking for just clothing and toiletries; for the last two weeks, from November 24 to December 5, organizers are asking for toys and games. Boxes will be set up at all the local schools in addition to local businesses, such as Mehuron's. On each box there will be a list of other participating businesses.
"We ask that you please donate new items or items in great condition to our drive," states Holden. "We really don't want poor quality or overused items. Think of presents that you would give your own children," he added.
"With the problem of homelessness rising in Vermont this year, the drive will help supply many more families and children with the holidays that they deserve. Please help us to help them enjoy their holidays," Holden concluded.