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State Honoree

Mary Temam

Washington, District Of Columbia

Mary Temam, 14, of Washington, D.C., an eighth-grader at St. Augustine Catholic School, has taken on several community service activities to brighten the lives of people at home and abroad, including a project where she sent more than 200 books plus a variety of school supplies to orphans and refugees in Kenya. “Reading is my passion and joy and I have a desire to share it,” especially with kids in need, said Mary. When she learned about a school in Mombasa with very few supplies and reading materials, she resolved to assist the children there.

Mary decided to donate most of the books from her own personal library, and then used her savings to buy more. She also purchased and collected backpacks, pencils, crayons, bookmarks, erasers and notebooks for the African students. She said that she felt it was particularly important to send books “to show the kids in Kenya that there is more than one way to view the world and that anything is possible when you open a book.” The young recipients were so delighted by the books that they sent Mary a letter of appreciation, along with magnets with Swahili phrases. Closer to home, Mary has participated in cleaning up the trash along the Anacostia River and made sandwiches for the homeless. Also, after attending two weeks of STEM camps this summer, she used her new knowledge to teach residents of senior homes about managing bill payments, and the impact of saving water and recycling on the environment. “I was inspired by my mother to spread love and cheer,” said Mary. “I have learned the value of volunteering and service to others.”