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Supporting higher education in Guatemala

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Gilpin School Interact Club

By Curt Halsted

Interact is what Gilpin kids call the Gilpin County School Interact club, a Rotary sponsored youth organization. The Interact Club has been a part of the Gilpin School community since 2003. The club focuses on service projects and fundraising for charity. This year has been a little more challenging to come up with projects due to the pandemic and concerns over social distancing.

After getting a late start due to the beginning of the school year being remote learning, the club has managed to organize two amazing projects. In February and March, students collected three large bins of food for the Gilpin County Food Bank.

Through the month of April, the Interact officers are selling Yuda Bands – bracelets that support education in Guatemala. The challenge was selling them with sanitation in mind. The solution: bracelets were each put in individual Ziploc bags so they could be sanitized regularly.

In Guatemala yuda is the Spanish word for help. The charity started when visionaries from the town of San Martin, Jilotepeque wanted to start a high school for local youth who were stuck in a cycle of poverty. As adults, they would earn less than $2 dollars a day working in the fields. Prior to the opening of the high school, the town of 80,000 people only had one junior high that students could attend after their elementary education. As a start-up, funding the school was a major obstacle. The Yuda Band program was the result of brainstorming between locals and friends they had made from the United States. After raising funds in America to sponsor many students, the idea of selling the bracelets to fund individual students emerged. Gilpin students are sponsoring a girl named Leidy who wants to attend high school to eventually be an accountant. When the fundraiser is over, students look forward to meeting her via a video call to celebrate their accomplishments.

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