You may have already noticed containers around town at restaurants and other places for collecting pennies as part of the ‘We Create Change’ program.
Members of the Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS) Interact Rotary Club have been working on the campaign in support of Free the Children, an international charity that promotes a ‘youth-helping-youth’ approach to foreign aid.
Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18. The Interact club is sponsored by the Burns Lake Rotary Club, but the club is self-governing and self-supporting.
Janelle O’Meara and Carli Moroski stopped by the Lakes District News to talk about their club’s most recent activity in Burns Lake.
“Pennies are going out of circulation in February, so we’re collecting the pennies and other change to go towards providing clean water in Africa,” said Moroski.
The students will collect the donated change and pour the pennies into bags supplied by the Royal Bank.
“Once the bag is filled to the fill line, there’s $25, that’s enough to provide drinking water to one person for life,” O’Meara said.
There are six other members of the Interact club. LDSS teacher Patti Dube helps steer their activities.
“Miss Dube helped us a lot but we did the research and liked this idea,” said O’Meara. “With the pennies going out of circulation, it seemed like a way to get other people involved.”
The club has a large jar set up at LDSS. Interact members hope other people will come to share their vision for marking the end of the penny.
“We get satisfaction from knowing that we’re doing something to make a difference,” said Moroski.
The club has been meeting once a week at lunch to prepare posters and get the word out about the project.
The Interact club has been involved in Rotary and non-Rotary events around town.
“It’s opened our eyes to the value of volunteer experience and it’s got us involved in the community,” said O’Meara.
Anyone between 12 and 18 can join the club, but O’Meara and Moroski said that the students that join tend to be a little older because their work requires a lot of interaction with adults.
“We do volunteer work with the Rotary,” said O’Meara. “We helped with the auction, so you need to feel confident enough to talk to adults in the Rotary and elsewhere.”
“We’re mostly older students now, in grades 11 and 12,” said Moroski.
O’Meara has been with the club for three years and Moroski for two years. They both joined because the club and its activities looked interesting to them.
“My parents aren’t in Rotary,” said Moroski of her decision to join. “The club was advertising at school and I just decided to show up.”
With students bound to graduate and move away, the club is always looking to recruit new members.
“Anyone is welcome to join,” said O’Meara. “We had someone new join just this week.”
The pennies will be collected before Christmas and again in June. Then the totals will be tallied up and the pennies forwarded to Free the Children.