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San Clemente Journal

Serving up the Holidays

Dec 03, 2014 11:00AM ● By Donia Moore

SOS Service Club during a “Color War.”

by Donia Moore

San Clemente High School Students are serving the community in some interesting ways. They’re bright, they’re brainy, and most importantly, they’re our future. And in their desire to serve, they have discovered some creative ways of doing it. 

San Clemente Interact Club
The San Clemente Interact Club is sponsored by the San Clemente Sunrise Rotary Club, and these 30-member Interactors have slated some big goals for themselves. 
Watch for these caring teens at local markets on the weekends before Thanksgiving and Christmas, as the Interact Club plans to hold a food drive for Family Assistance Ministry (FAM) and military families in the area during the upcoming holidays. In past years, they have helped gather enough food, including turkeys, to feed 90 - 120 families in need. And in addition they are planning several elementary school Christmas events.
From San Clemente to the Sudan, this group’s service projects benefit children and the elderly. Their Water for the Sudan Project has been a highlight for many of the members. Every day in rural communities and poor urban centers throughout sub-Saharan Africa, hundreds of millions of people suffer from lack of access to clean, safe water. These students are helping raise money for this project in the Sudan, an outreach that involves drilling wells for clean drinking water. 
President Evie McGarry has plenty of assistance this year. The Club’s officers include Sophia George - Vice President; Katherine Fuentes - Secretary; Jen Spirelli - Treasurer; Haley Pierson - Media Coordinator; and Karen Reagan and Nathan Francis -Event Coordinators.
Evie says that their goal is to reach out to the community as well as their classmates to help them develop their leadership skills. Her experience with the 7th Inning Stretch mentoring program throughout her years at Shorecliffs Middle School greatly influenced her desire to help her community. 
“I like feeling comfortable expressing myself and knowing that my opinion is important,” says Evie. 
She recently traveled on an International Exchange Student program to Japan which changed her life. After high school, Evie plans to attend a four-year college to obtain her degree in English and teach the language in Japan.
The Interact Club meets every other week at lunch in Mrs. Shick’s classroom on campus. Please contact San Clemente High School for more information.

SOS Service Club
Focusing on helping both the student community at the high school and the community at large all year long, this club tries to set an example and provide events where classmates can enjoy themselves without fear of possible substance abuse.
“All students are welcome to come to an event,” says Sophia Spralja, president of the club. “They don’t have to be an official member. Our events are attended by an average of 20 students, but that always changes and rotates.” 
The club provides free fun events for students such as ice skating, color war, dodge ball, bonfires and other activities where students can come and have a great time in a substance abuse –free environment. At every event, SOS collects food for FAM. They have also donated their time at the Grunion Run, Ocean Fest, Boot Camp, high school registration, and other community events. 
One hundred twenty-eight members strong, and growing, President Sophia also functions as Director of Community Outreach. She’s helped by her other officers: Brinna Lee - Vice President, Director of Membership; Katie Mednick – Director of Healthy Eating; Christy Mednick – Director of Healthy Activities; Shelby Nix – Secretary; and Haley McCabe – Director of Volunteerism (FAM). Their goal is to change the culture at San Clemente High School to help students understand that they can have fun while being drug-free and healthy. 
“Most kids at our school don’t use drugs, but the community’s perception is the opposite. We want to change that. We want our community leaders to recognize the substance abuse issues in San Clemente and support us in our activities and educational events,” says Sophia. “We’ve spoken at City Council and local clubs like Kiwanis, to create awareness of the substance abuse issues in our community.” 
The SOS Club has been involved with the PSA campaign “Lock Up Your Meds” by providing posters to local pharmacies, distributing flyers and even placing ads in local newspapers.
Sophia has seen how relationships can be changed by substance abuse, and wanted to do something about it. The club not only provides activities that are drug-free, but tries to provide support to those who may be suffering, letting them know they are not alone.
Sophia feels that her leadership role with the club has made her stronger. She has become comfortable with whom she is and the choices she has made. She says that she has acquired the ability to give her opinion, understanding that others may have a different opinion, and that it’s ok.
Sophia has lived in San Clemente her entire life so far. Eventually she would like to go to a college on the east coast and play soccer, one of her favorite sports. She hopes to become a journalist in New York City. Sophia has been greatly influenced by her mom who was one of the founders of iHope in San Clemente, as well as the Wellness and Prevention Center. 
“Helping others is simply who we are as a family,” says Sophia.
The club may be reached through San Clemente High School.

Safe Rides Club 
The Safe Rides Club operates all year-round but really kicks into high gear around the holidays when parties and other festive events are going strong. “Halloween is a popular date for Safe Rides, and student teams are busy working that night,” shares club president Holly Pope. “If partying students find themselves in a situation - either stranded, their friends have been drinking, or other unsafe situations - they have a confidential place to call for a ride home. 
SRC teens take their responsibilities very seriously. Friday and Saturday nights are when the biggest need occurs, and the students who help out at Safe Rides give up a part of their evenings to make sure that other kids get home safely.  
“I have been involved in Safe Rides since freshman year,” says Holly, who is delighted to see club membership increasing.
The club’s goal is to get kids home safely when they, or the people they’re with, shouldn’t be driving. This program has strong support from the community but could use more volunteers, both adult and student. 
“Our club provides safe rides home to students who find themselves in unsafe situations. It is completely confidential and student-run: the dispatcher takes the call and writes all of the information down, and then the driver and navigator pick them up and deliver them to their homes. At least one trained adult is present per shift at the headquarters at Mission Hospital in case of emergencies. It is a yearly program and we give about 8-15 rides a night,” Holly explains. 
The other main organizing members of the club are Tatiana Fourfouris and Thea Aliman, two seniors who have been involved in planning and spreading the knowledge of Safe Rides around campus.
All of the high schools in southern Orange County participate in Safe Rides. The adult president of the organization is Geroginne Mercado of Mission Hospital, who organizes monthly meetings with the schools’ leaders. San Clemente is just one chapter of the countywide program and President Holly functions as the San Clemente representative. The non-profit organization trains both students and the adults who volunteer to be in attendance at the dispatch headquarters prior to their being allowed to volunteer. The adult volunteers do not go out on any of the Safe Ride calls –but they must be in attendance during every shift in case of emergencies.
“We prevent dangerous accidents and tragedies that might occur when one student chooses to make a wrong decision to get into a car while intoxicated,” says Holly. 

To become a volunteer, or for more information about the training, please contact: [email protected].