Clubs that Care
Students at LHS give back to their community in so many ways. From the school-wide W.I.S.H. project to volunteering for a few hours on the weekend, LHS students care for others in different ways. The four clubs featured in this article are service-based at their core, and they are populated with Wildcats who care.
Interact With the Community
Unknown to many but impactful to all, Interact is a service club at Libertyville High School that focuses on giving back to the community. With between 80 and 90 students involved, Interact’s focus revolves around getting people involved in helping others.
This simple creed attracted senior Emily Moubayed to join when she moved to Libertyville halfway through her freshman year.
“I hadn’t volunteered this much before and I just really loved it. You gain experience, leadership skills, you kinda meet new people too,” Moubayed said.
From volunteering at Feed My Starving Children to planning the W.I.S.H. dinner, Interact makes a difference not only within LHS, but in the surrounding community too.
Club faculty advisor Mrs. Jennifer Uliks said that “what is unique about the club is that students can pick and choose which service projects are meaningful to them throughout the school year.” From working with children to the military, to even sending blankets to the Sioux Indian Reservation, club members are free to work on what they’re passionate about.
Interact is not difficult to be a part of: members of the club only have to participate in three service events per semester. Senior Wendy Bornhoeft joined her junior year because “it is an amazing way to give back to the community.”
Anyone can volunteer with Interact; to get involved, contact Mrs. Uliks about volunteering at the PADS shelter every Wednesday, and to receive information about yet-to-be determined future events.
Topcats helping Top Kids
About 20 times a year, members of Topcats meet to mentor, play and build lasting relationships with kids who have been labeled as “at risk.”
Senior Emily Baumstark, a four-year member, is proud of the connection that she has made with the kids. Baumstark describes the role of high school students in the club as “being a positive role model (for the kids) to look up to from an educational standpoint.”
Topcats has two branches, one of which centers on students’ studies at Oakdale Elementary School. Baumstark described this as a more educational focus, helping students with classes they’re struggling with, or even just assisting them in completing their homework thoroughly.
The second location is in Waukegan, at the Genesee location of the Boys and Girls Club, which is a “big open gym” according to Baumstark. At this location, Topcats members play games, talk, and do group activities with the kids, either outside or inside.
Faculty adviser Mrs. Audrey Glenn emphasized that “not only have statistics born out the fact that the students in both after-school programs have improved their grades, reading and writing skills, [but] they have improved their social skills, communication abilities and confidence as well.” Mrs. Glenn spoke on the fact that Topcats has to turn students away from joining the club every year because they can only take as many as can fit on the bus.
Topcats members and the students they mentor are incredibly close. Baumstark worked with the same kids from her freshman year to junior year. Upon graduating from fifth grade, therefore graduating from the program, the kids told Baumstark that they didn’t want to go on to middle school because they loved being a part of the program. Some kids even wrote cards to members before the holidays or at the end of the year, in addition to thank-you cards for four-year Topcats members.
Cats who Care for Cambodia
Caring for Cambodia is one of the most well-known philanthropy groups in the school. Traveling to another country to help improve not only the physical school, but the experience for the children who attend the school, is a rare chance to take part in.
Anyone is welcome to join, and the way many people hear about it is through the announcements.
That is exactly how senior Allison Prey got a couple friends to go to a meeting with her in September of 2015, and they immediately “became very involved” with fundraising for their trip this past summer. The biggest fundraiser the club does is their annual Ugly Sweater 5k Run around LHS. Those who sign up for the 5k are there to run, but they are also able to donate before or after it is over.
The 5k isn’t all they do, either: “We also have a car wash at Pizzeria Uno, we participate in Feed My Starving Children and have a school supply drive,” stated Prey.
The goal of all of this was to raise money to help build the road and area for bikes at the school they were working with. Although they were there to improve the school itself, Caring for Cambodia was also able to work hand-in-hand with the students who attended the school. The members participated in ESL, or English as a Second Language, by creating games to help the children at the school become better at speaking English.
As Caring for Cambodia is such a large organization beyond LHS, they have already built schools all over Cambodia. Prey stated that she “participate[d] because it is for such a good cause, helping these kids who don’t have anything.”
Everyone sees them around school. They do the announcements and organize school events.
They are the Exec Board, and they do more than many students at LHS know.
A two-year member of the board, senior Daniel Oh, has participated in a number of philanthropy events organized by the group. The Canned Food Drive and the Color Run are the biggest tasks Student Council takes on.
In doing these two events, there are upwards of 104 hours of service. “The Canned Food Drive was about 32 hours of service this year, and last year the Color Run was about 72 hours of service,” stated Oh.
Each event that they do outside of this, such as WISH and Highway Cleanup Day, takes usually 2-4 hours of service. All together, this means the Exec Board does about 112 hours of work for our school. Their end goal “is to leave a positive impact on the school and community,” Oh explained.
Student Council also hosts a night where all students at LHS are invited to Feed My Starving Children. This night is fun for those who go and it helps children around the world avoid hunger. The more people who attend, the more people that are helped.
All in all, Exec Board and StuCo spend hours on end making a difference, not only for the school, but for people in the community and around the world.