BCHS InterAct Club, Thrivent join forces to give back

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
Every year, Bristol Central High School’s Interact Club puts on a game of Powder Puff football to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
A junior division of the Rotary International Club, Interact has raised over $25,000 for Make-A-Wish since its efforts began. Last November, the Interact Club was able to raise more for Make-A-Wish, thanks to a start-up donation from Thrivent Financial of Bristol. Interact raised about $4,000 for Make-A-Wish last year.
“We’ve granted the wishes of several kids,” said Bristol Central teacher Kelly Monahan-Dinoia, who is an advisor of the InterAct Club.
The $250 start-up money from Thrivent helped Interact buy various raffle prizes for the event, and through that donation, the club earned an additional $1,300 for Make-A-Wish.
“Thrivent has been so very generous to us this year,” said Dinoia. “Because of Thrivent’s generosity, we’ve been able to give much larger donations to the charities we normally…donate to.”
Thrivent Financial is a nonprofit company that offers a variety of financial services, including life insurance, annuities and mutual funds, plus tailored guidance from financial representatives nationwide. According to corporate statistics, Thrivent’s members donated 10.7 million volunteer hours in 2015, and distributed $54.9 million in Thrivent Choice grants to non-profits.
Julia Weston of Thrivent heard about the club through one of her clients, who happened to be the mother of a Bristol Central student who joined Interact as a freshman. 
Through the Action Teams, Thrivent clients have an opportunity to use $250 twice a year towards supporting a community service project or a fundraiser. Thrivent allows clients to choose where they would like that money to go. Weston’s client decided to have the $250 support the Interact Club’s Powder Puff game last November.
From emergency preparedness backpacks for senior citizens to supporting a grant writing seminar to collecting donations for the homeless, Thrivent Action Teams in Bristol have given back to the community in many ways.
“It’s really led by the people who are in their communities,” said Weston. “The whole point is you don’t have to have money to do something good.”
The connection between Thrivent and Interact did not end after the football game. When Weston came to one of Interact’s meetings so students could thank her for the start-up money, she brought them pizza. In addition, Thrivent is supporting the Interact for the upcoming Charity Cycle Challenge on April 2. Thrivent has paid for the students’ $20 registration fees, and even got the students t-shirts to wear during the event. The event supports St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and the club has already raised over $1,300 through donations. Interact hopes to raise $2,800 for the cause.
“[The students] could use all the money that they collect to give to St. Jude, and that’s what we’re all about,” said Dinoia.
“This is a huge difference between last year’s Charity Cycle Challenge and this year’s,” added Valerie Guarino, a world language teacher at Bristol Central.
From the Mr. BCHS event to Valentine’s Day breakfasts and the Pizza Challenge to the putting on a prom for senior citizens, members of Interact volunteer their time for a variety of events throughout the year. To date, there are over 100 students in Interact.
Interact members Emily Mcallister and Branden Alvarado said they enjoy giving back to the community while having fun with a variety of activities.
“These are students who tend to think about other people than themselves,” said Dinoia. “They have compassion…and they want to make a difference.”
“They’re just really compassionate kids,” added Guarino.
In return, the Interact Club has seen how their acts of kindness become a domino effect. Emily recalled how a woman who attended the last Powder Puff game donated $100 in cash for the club’s cause—which was an unexpected surprise for Interact.
“We were about to give her the money back, but she just donated the whole amount, and we were so shocked when it happened,” said Emily, who is currently a junior at Bristol Central.

Morgan Begin, left, Emily Mcallister and Branden Alvarado are members of Bristol Central High School’s Interact Club. Last November, the InterAct Club raised about $4,000 for Make-A-Wish.

Morgan Begin, left, Emily Mcallister and Branden Alvarado are members of Bristol Central High School’s Interact Club. Last November, the InterAct Club raised about $4,000 for Make-A-Wish.