Interact Club brings joy with Kristi’s Christmas


Photo courtesy of Rebecca Cousins

At the end of the day’s shopping, the Interact Club and kids gather together at the Springfield Golf and Country Club. Here they celebrate their Christmas party with Santa where kids receive their presents and spend more time with their WS student buddy at the party.

After two years of limited participation, the Interact Club continued its seven-year-long tradition of celebrating Kristi’s Christmas 

The program began in honor of a former WS student, Kristi Brown, who passed away in a car accident. Following this incident, Kristi’s parents decided they wanted to give back to underprivileged families in the community during the holiday season by raising money to provide gifts. Kristi’s Christmas is still running strong 35 years later while being an important event for Interact Club for the past seven.

“I participated from 1993 to 1996. I played basketball for WS, and our team was very involved with Kristi’s Christmas,” said teacher Shannon Rapoza. “It was a great memory that my teammates from almost 30 years ago still talk about.”

For some Interact Club members, this year was their first time participating in Kristi’s Christmas.

“This will be my first year participating in this event with no COVID-19 restrictions, and I’m extremely excited,” said senior and Interact Club officer Anastasiia Goi prior to the event. “I think the in-person experience will allow us to genuinely connect more with the children and witness the impact it has on them. I think this entire experience is an amazing opportunity to connect with our local community, and the impact it has will stretch beyond simply giving children toys.”

Normally the fun-filled event begins with a group breakfast, where the club members are paired with a younger student. The duos then visit Target and purchase necessities such as clothes, toiletries, and shoes, as well as presents on their wish lists. The day ends with everyone attending a Christmas party at the Springfield Golf and Country Club.

“I am most looking forward to being able to build a relationship with the children and for them to enjoy their holidays. I wish for this experience to be something memorable for these children and something they can look forward to every year,” said junior and Interact Club officer Crystal Liu.“I hope for a huge success this year in Kristi’s Christmas and for many volunteers to show up and be able to connect to the children.”

COVID-19 regulations in the past couple of years caused a slightly different celebration, making it challenging to create closer ties with the kids. Members still bought and gave gifts, but helpers could not see the kids they helped.

“Last year, the Rotary Club had to get creative in order to do Kristi’s Christmas since it could not be in person due to COVID-19 restrictions. They came to an Interact Club meeting with gift cards that they handed out to 50 students so they could purchase toys and presents for the elementary students,” said teacher and Interact Club sponsor Rebecca Cousins. “The elementary school students were excited to get the presents but missed the interaction with the students, which is one of the highlights of the event. We are thrilled to be able to do it in-person again this year!”

No matter the circumstances, Interact Club will continue to participate in Kristi’s Christmas. The program is one of many events aligning with the Interact Club’s main purpose: to provide club members with volunteer opportunities that make a difference in their community.