Palmetto High School junior Mackenzie Farkas won the Brandeis Book Award last month at the Palmetto Awards Ceremony. The book award is given to students who show a commitment to things like community service, social justice and volunteer work. She’s the incoming Senior Class president.
Farkas began her community service early in life starting with her Bat Mitzvah project. She learned about Days of Girls International and thought the organization’s goals were important.
“When women in America get their period, it’s not a big deal,” she says. “In Africa, when girls their period, they can’t do anything. When they get their periods, they have to sit corn husks.”
Farkas sewed ten kits menstrual kits as detailed by Day of Girls, including the drawstring bag, so that she could help girls continue their education. Those included eight liners, two shields, the drawstring bag, soap, underwear and an instruction guide.
Since then, she made ten more kits and sent them to the organization.
“I learned how to sew for this project,” she says.
Each kit took approximately three hours. She purchased the materials with her own money.
“When I finished my project, I was in awe. Ten or eleven can continue to learn,” she says. “I wouldn’t be half the person I am without the knowledge from education. They can now be educated on what’s going on in their country. I’m doing something bigger than myself.”
Farkas’ commitment to education continues with her involvement in Camp Jenny. Teens from Beth Am raise money for the Memorial Day weekend sleep-away camp that is attended by underprivileged Atlanta children who do well in school.
Farkas participated in Camp Jenny for the first time last year as a cooking specialist.
“We made green eggs and ham,” she says. “I’m going back as the senior cooking specialist. I’m so excited for these kids to see what I have planned for them.”
This year, Farkas is president of her temple youth group, the Beth Am Federation of Temple Youth (BAFTY). As president, she headed up the fundraiser, Jog for Jenny. The group always sets a fundraising goal of $10,000 for Jog for Jenny and the usually fail to reach that number, raising maybe $5,000 to $6,000.
“This year we actually met and exceeded our goal,” she says. “It was so amazing.”
Farkas is also a member of the Beth Am Social Justice Teen Fellowship group.
“We learn about different social justice issues,” she says. “It makes you a lot more aware of what’s going on in our world and especially in our community.”
With the team she went to Guatemala to build a school cafeteria out of what would be considered trash in the U.S.
“We were stuffing any kind of trash into water bottles,” she says. “We were layering those water bottles and making a mixture with mud and making these walls.”
Farkas also volunteers at the Beth Am religious school.
At Palmetto, she will be an Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook. She was the first freshman ever to be named to the yearbook staff in the history of Palmetto.
As class president, her main focus will be to unify the senior class. She’s concerned students aren’t showing up for events so she wants to get them excited about their senior year.
She’s vice president for Panther to Panther, the school mentoring program for incoming freshman. Farkas is involved in the Social Science Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society, the National Honor Society and she’s a member of a History Bowl team.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld