‘Service above self’

CHS Interact Club bakes cookies, wraps gifts for local families in need

Cinnaminson High School Interact Club volunteers fill cookie tins that will be included with each toy donation the club will be distributing to local families in need during the holidays.

Stephen Finn

The Sun

It’s rare to find high school students willingly at their school on a weekend, but on Saturday, Dec. 8, the Cinnaminson High School cafeteria was filled with students happily spending their free time contributing to a good cause.

These students are members of the school’s Interact Club. Interact is a community service club sponsored by the Palmyra Riverton Cinnaminson Rotary Club. Members of the club are high school students who are looking for opportunities to volunteer and give back to their community.

“My motto is ‘It’s good for the kids to have fun and learn that you can have fun while doing good for others,’” said Kathleen Hennelly, a teacher at the school and organizer for the Interact Club.

On Dec. 8, they met at the high school to bake cookies and wrap gifts for local families in need.

“To me what makes Interact Club special is we have kids with all different interests, we have a lot of sports kids, we have kids who this is their only club, we have kids who are in government, we have a whole range of students all come together in the Interact Club. To me that makes it very special,” said Hennelly.

The club has partnered with the Jane B. Weilenbeck Needy Family Fund which serves families throughout the Cinnaminson area. The fund is named after a former teacher, guidance counselor and social worker for the Cinnaminson school district who passed away in 1988.

Weilenbeck’s passion for lending aid to families in need is carried on through the fund that adopts families who qualify for support based on their application for the federal free and reduced lunch program. The organization is supported by donations from students, parents and staff of Cinnaminson schools as well as local organizations and individuals in the community.

The Needy Family Fund provided the club with a list of their adopted families and a wishlist for their children so students, parents and school staff could donate Christmas gifts. Included with each of these gifts will be a tin of cookies prepared and packed by the Interact Club’s student volunteers.

“They don’t know who (the child) is but they know that that child won’t have a Christmas if they don’t do the shopping,” said Hennelly.

Martina Morrell is a senior at the high school and an officer of the Interact Club. She joined during her freshman year after hearing about the club and everything it does through her older sister. She feels that she gets just as much out of the club as she puts into it.

“It’s the satisfaction of seeing what your service is doing for others,” said Morrell. “Our slogan is ‘service above self’ so we put in a lot of time to helping different people around the town and schools. It’s really cool to give your time to people who need it most.”

On Dec. 19, the gifts will be delivered to New Albany and Eleanor Rush elementary schools where most of the children receiving presents through the club’s efforts attend.

Donations to the Needy Family Fund can be made by sending checks made out to the Jane B. Weilenbeck Needy Family Fund and mailing them to Jane B. Weilenbeck Fund c/o Cinnaminson Township Schools, P.O. Box 224 Cinnaminson, NJ 08077.