Over 600 people joined the Jewish Community Youth Foundation’s annual Philanthropy Fair and Check Presentation Ceremony, held Feb. 23 at Robbinsville High School. A total of $72,000 was distributed to 24 programs by 174 area teens representing 16 middle schools, 21 high schools, and 21 synagogues.
The JCYF philanthropy program, a project of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, is funded by the Ricky and Andrew J. Shechtel Philanthropic Fund and the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks. The program has disbursed $535,745 since its inception.
Highlights of the evening included an interactive texting exercise polling the audience’s views on philanthropy and Jewish values. Rabbi Adam Feldman of The Jewish Center in Princeton delivered a d’var Torah, and Lily Pepper and Ben Siegel talked about going from JCYF participants to alumni advisers.
“JCYF participants, embrace this experience,” said Siegel. “Make the most of it. Do your best to learn as much about yourself, because you never know when these skills and values are going to come in handy.
“To the parents: be proud of your teens. They are growing and learning so much from this experience, whether or not they know it now. They are learning personal responsibility, financial responsibility. They are learning about the world and about themselves. And, most importantly, they are making a difference.”
Daniel Fine of West Windsor, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania and a 2011 JCYF graduate, won the fourth annual JCYF Distinguished Alumni Award for his participation in many philanthropic and community service activities. He received a $360 award which he will donate to MEOR, an organization devoted to “inspiring, educating, and empowering a new generation” of Jewish leaders. Fine told the current JCYF participants: “Think about and appreciate the values that JCYF teaches you. It’s a program that goes beyond philanthropy and helps give you a greater connection to the Jewish community.”
Anna Hoffman of Yardley, Pa., said that the lessons she learned from her participation in JCYF “have shaped my character and opened my eyes to the great world of philanthropy” and led her “to understand the value of giving back to my community and the importance of thinking of others before thinking of myself.”