When most people think of Rotary clubs, they don’t think of people who aren’t yet old enough to drive.
Franklin Community Middle School formed the first middle school Interact Club in the southern Indiana district, which includes Johnson County, said Greg Moore, a Franklin Rotary Club member who serves as an advisor for the club. Interact Club is a service club for students that has a partnership with Rotary International.
The middle school club was officially formed in October. Since then students have helped raise money for breast cancer research and awareness and plans to raise money for autism awareness organizations, said Leila Rucker, a seventh-grader who serves as the club’s secretary.
“I’ve always been interested in helping people and the community out. I’ve always wanted to do stuff like that,” Rucker said. “I have people in my family who have autism. Stuff like that helps out a lot.”
In December, students wrote Christmas cards for nursing home residents.
Marnie Moore, an eighth-grader who serves as club president, got involved because her father is a rotary club member, she said.
“I love how passionate everyone was,” Marnie Moore said. “I was hoping for about 10 members and we have about 40 in our club. It makes me so happy how many people want to do as much as we can.”
The club meets every other Wednesday and met with rotary club members during the fall semester, said Keegan Turner McQuinn, an eighth-grader and vice president of Interact Club.
“They said we were trailblazers,” Turner McQuinn said. “I think as a club, it’s very fun and it just makes me feel like I have something to do with my life. It’s good knowing it’s for a good cause.”
The average rotarian is middle-aged or older, according to Rotary International’s website. Now, with Interact Clubs at both Franklin Middle School and Franklin Community High School, young people can discover their interest in helping others, potentially becoming Rotary Club members after they graduate, said Monica Anderson, the middle school club’s faculty advisor.
“I think it’s great for young people to get involved in the community and it obviously strengthens so many things about their experience in middle school,” Anderson said. “There’s an attachment to our community, and it helps them think beyond themselves, which can sometimes be difficult in middle school.”