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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Rotary Interact ready for a new school year

by Sylene Argent

Those interested in making a difference in the lives of others, locally and globally, while they continue their studies as Essex District High School students, participated in the first Rotary Interact Club meeting of the 2018/2019 school year last Thursday afternoon.

  This local club, which is associated with the Rotary Club of Essex but is designed for youth, raises funds to support local causes and EDHS’s sister school in Maforeka, Africa, which EDHS and its sister schools built in 2010. Fundraising is required every year to ensure the facility can continue to operate.

  John Garinger, a retired EDHS teacher, returns to the local high school on a weekly bases to oversee the club and teach the large group of participating students just how important their efforts are in improving the lives of others.

  Garinger was happy to see many grade nine students take interest in this school club, which was likely the biggest on campus last year. He showed videos and photos of the facility and student of EDHS’s sister school, and shared stories of how the high school students’ efforts have improved the lives of others, in an area that has undergone political unease and Ebola crises.

  Every year, EDHS and its feeder schools sponsor a total of eight of the students in Maforeka. Garinger told the Club members he was awaiting the photos and biographies of the students to come in the mail. Being able to see the photos and bios of those sponsored students will help those in the EDHS Rotary Interact Club get an idea of the need for the support. Each sponsorship is $250 a year.

  He spoke of a progress a mother and daughter had made. They had gone through some very tough times in the past, but were able to get some help through EDHS’s past fundraising efforts. Garinger had met them in Freetown a few years back, crying. The mother had no money and her daughter needed to go to school. The daughter, Garinger was proud to announce, has been at the top of her class for four consecutive years.

  Recently, he received a “thank you” note from the daughter, which he said is sure to bring a tear to the eye of every Rotary Interact member when they get a chance to read it.   

  Some of the funds earned over the summer, Garinger said, helped install a water re-filtration system and helped to upkeep the school. One effort Club members participate in this summer was hosting a fundraising barbeque during the Essex Centre BIA’s and Canadian Transportation Museum’s Essex Dream Cruise In.

  Looking ahead, the Rotary Interact members have quite a few events to plan this school year to fundraise for the EDHS sister school in Maforeka, including the annual pasta dinner on November 19 at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) and the second annual flea market, which will take place March 30 and 31.  

  The students will also participate in community events. This December, they will act as the official letter collectors during the Essex Centre Santa Claus Parade.  

  In the upcoming weeks, these students will visit EDHS’s feeder schools to express the importance of the group to area grade eight students so they will join once they are in high school.  

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