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Southwick Interact Club helps clean up Forest Park Zoo

Date: 4/17/2015

SOUTHWICK – Students in Southwick-Tolland Regional High School’s Interact Club spent a day outside of the classroom in the name of community service.

The club worked in Forest Park on April 14 as a daylong project to help beautify the grounds of the zoo, said Interact President Erik Rizzo.

The idea to help out at the park came from a member of the club, whose mother works for United Way of Pioneer Valley, Rizzo said. Rizzo reached out and helped organize the day, which was part of the United Way of Pioneer Valley YouthGenerate Program.

United Way sponsored the day, which also honored National Volunteer Week.

Rizzo said he was pleased with the work the Interact Club did at the Forest Park Zoo.

“I think everything came together well and I couldn’t be happier about it. Everything came out well,” he said.

The Interact Club’s advisor Laura Bothwell, a math teacher at Southwick-Tolland, said the students planned the entire project.

“I’m the advisor, but I do almost nothing,” Bothwell said with a laugh. “This is 100 percent student-led. It’s awesome. They do projects like this all year. They put all of this together themselves, and all of the funds go to different charities that they pick. It’s really nice. It’s really, really nice to see.”

Bothwell said that the club has about 65 members, with almost 30 attending the service day at Forest Park. Interact Club works on other projects throughout the year including AIDS Awareness Week, Breast Cancer Awareness Week and a field hockey tournament with proceeds going to charity, Bothwell said.

Rizzo said that it is important for him and his peers to give back to the community.

“It’s definitely very important. If you help your community, it can come back to you and give you rewards. It’s a cherished opportunity. Especially with the Interact Club, we don’t expect awards for it; we just do,” Rizzo said. “That’s the big thing about Interact. You give, but you don’t expect. You’re selfless.”