Oshkosh Rotary Southwest

P.O. Box 1202
Oshkosh, WI 54903-1202

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News Release


By Kari Seefeldt, Oshkosh Southwest Rotary

Teaching Kids to Give Back to their Community through Interact

Teaching kids the importance of social awareness and giving back to the community is vital to ensuring that a child grows to be empathetic and caring. Connecting with other kids around the world and volunteering in the community are perfect ways to instill these lessons while making a difference in the community and the world beyond it.

One organization is doing both of these things in the Oshkosh Area School District – Interact. Interact clubs are Rotary service clubs for young people ages 12-18 who want to join together to tackle the issues in their community they care most about. In the OASD, there are clubs at Oshkosh North and West, with up to 50 students participating in each club. In addition, there are four “Earlyact” clubs called International Book Clubs (IBCs), one at Oaklawn Elementary, another at Washington Elementary, and two in the ALPs program located at Tipler Middle School. There are also HS clubs at Lourdes Academy and Valley Christian. All of these clubs are supported by Rotary of Oshkosh and Oshkosh Southwest Rotary. Along with staff and teachers in the schools, John Hobbins, an Oshkosh Southwest Rotary member, serves as a mentor for the Interact clubs and is the coordinator of the International Book Clubs. Hobbins is Youth and Families Pastor at Zion Lutheran Church on Sawyer. His involvement with the Interact clubs is one way he gives back to the community of Oshkosh.

“Students who get involved in Interact gain knowledge they will use for the rest of their lives. They develop leadership skills and personal integrity; understand the value of individual responsibility and hard work; and see the importance of helpfulness and respect for others,” said Hobbins.

Each year, Interact clubs complete several community service projects, some of which furthers international understanding and goodwill. For example, a number of the clubs have been actively involved in raising money for the Crop Hunger Walk and March of Dimes. Over the last six years, the clubs have raised more than $50,000 to help fight hunger in Oshkosh and all over the world. You may also see the students volunteering at organizations here in Oshkosh, including the Boys and Girls Club, Evergreen Retirement Community, the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry, the Day by Day Warming Shelter and Father Carr’s.

The life of the four International Book Clubs is enriched by the participation of Interact Club members and Rotary and AFS international exchange students. Students read books throughout the year about life’s challenges, war, and refugees. Some books they have read included the Diary of Anne Frank, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat. Once they are finished reading they skype with students in IBCs in countries like Argentina and Israel.

“It’s the greatest thing to see them connecting with kids halfway around the world. They have a real hunger to learn about other cultures,” said Hobbins.

The Interact & International Book Clubs make a lasting impression on the lives of the students. “They are our future Rotarians. They will move Rotary beyond what we ever could have imagined. They are engaged, energetic and enthusiastic, and ready to get involved,” said Hobbins.

More than 450,000 young people are involved in Interact around the world. As one of the most significant and fastest-growing programs of Rotary service, with more than 20,000 clubs in 159 countries and geographical areas, Interact has become a worldwide phenomenon.


Oshkosh Rotary Southwest is a service organization that meets every Wednesday for lunch at Robbins restaurant in Oshkosh. The club’s 110 members raise and donate almost $150,000 annually for local, national and international causes, and they have a lot of fun doing it!


Public Relations Committee
Oshkosh Rotary Southwest
P.O. Box 1202
Oshkosh, WI 54903-1202
Email: info@oshkoshrotarysouthwest.org
Web: www.OshkoshRotarySouthwest.org