Interact Club’s Painting Rocks for Peace Project inspires community 

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By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer

(l to r) Sruthi Tanikella, Allison Berardi and David Gillingham gave Applefest attendees the chance to make a commitment to peace, love and justice through the high school students’ Interact Club of Northborough-Southborough’s Painting Rocks for Peace project. (Photo/Christine Galeone)

Northborough – Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” The students who belong to the Interact Club of Northborough-Southborough understand that philosophy. Not only do they understand it, they embrace it while making a positive difference in their community.

At this year’s Applefest, the family-friendly festival which took place in Northborough Sept. 14-17, club members shared their hopes for a better world with festival attendees. And they did so in a fun, colorful way. At the club’s booth set up at the Northborough Rotary Club’s street fair, there were three rocks on display with the words “Peace,” “Love” and “Justice.” Club members invited people to paint their signatures on the rocks to pledge to do what they can to promote all three values in their community.

Sponsored by the Northborough Rotary and part of the Rotary International family of worldwide youth service clubs, the club for local adolescents was officially started in 2016. Its members strive to put service above self. While completing at least two major service projects each year – one community enrichment project and one that promotes global understanding – the teens have fun as they learn important leadership skills, form friendships and help local and global communities cope with things such as disasters, hunger and poverty.

Club President Sruthi Tanikella, who founded the club after briefly living in India and witnessing dire poverty, said that reading an article about a group promoting kindness led her to develop the Applefest activity.

“I was inspired to do something like this through the idea of the Kindness Project which was tailored to our club and our mission,” she said. “We created our project to be centered around peace, because the lack of peace is a great problem in our country as well as in our world.”

And the relatively new club has been busy promoting love and justice as well. In addition to winning a Rotary district-wide video competition with a video encouraging others to start and join Interact clubs, the students made ornaments for seniors who go to the Northborough Senior Center. They also fought hunger in their community.

“We recently held a movie night for local families, and instead of charging money for tickets, we asked each family to bring school supplies to donate,” said Allison Berardi, the club’s vice president. “We ended up collecting a significant amount of supplies to donate to underprivileged children. Last winter, we also made dozens of cards that were given to local seniors to brighten up their holidays.”

Through such efforts, the Interact Club of Northborough-Southborough is making a positive difference in the world. And they’re starting with their community. With three rocks and a lot of enthusiasm, they reminded people of values everyone can embrace.

Sruthi shared, “I wanted to bring the community together by giving them a chance to support peace, love and justice.”

Interact Club of Northborough-Southborough Rocks covered with signatures from Applefest Attendees (Photo/submitted)