Over 600 people joined the Jewish Community Youth Foundation’s (JCYF) annual Philanthropy Fair and Check Presentation Ceremony, held Feb. 22 at Robbinsville High School. Over $72,000 was distributed to 24 programs by 170 area teens representing 17 Synagogues, 12 Middle Schools and 21 High Schools.

JCYF is a teen philanthropy program and a project of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County and funded by the Ricky and Andrew J. Shechtel Philanthropic Fund and the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks.  The program has disbursed over $600,000 since its inception 12 years ago.

Highlights from the evening included JCYF Alumnus and Naval Academy Cadet, Darren Freedman of East Windsor addressed the audience regarding how the skills he learned in JCYF translated to his leadership experience at the Naval Academy.   Freedman stated, “JCYF is unique in that it combines decision-making and critical thinking skills with group dynamics and peer leadership.  The result is a program that gave me important skills that have served me well in many ways as well as strengthen my connection to the greater Jewish community.”  The Jewish Community Youth Foundation awarded JCYF’s Annual Alumni Award to Molly Fisch-Freidman for her outstanding work post JCYF at Princeton University and the American Jewish Committee.   Rabbi Jay Kornsgold of Beth El in East Windsor delivered a D’var Torah on the importance of helping others.

Molly Fisch-Friedman of Princeton Junction, a junior at Princeton University and a 2012 JCYF graduate, won the fifth annual JCYF Distinguished Alumni Award for her participation in many philanthropic and community service activities. She received a $360 award which she will donate to Greenwood House, an organization that provides skilled nursing, assisted living, short-term rehabilitation, homecare services, hospice care and kosher meals on wheels to Seniors. Fisch-Friedman told the current JCYF participants: “Participating in JCYF showed me that small actions, like donating time or money, can improve the lives of people across the world, and every little bit of philanthropy can contribute to something great.”

Peri Feldstein of Princeton, said, “I am so proud to have gained leadership experiences by participating in JCYF. The program is unique in its mission, and executes it in a way that breeds collaboration and instills Jewish values of giving in all of us. I’m excited to take what I’ve learned here at JCYF with me to college and beyond!”

For more information, contact Celeste Albert, coordinator of teen programs at JFCS of Greater Mercer County, at 609-987-8100 x210 or celestea@jfcsonline.org, or visit www.jfcsonline.org/jcyf .