16-year-old Sarah Lackey has spent time on her school’s student council, hangs out with friends on the weekend, and is currently a junior at Cathedral Catholic High School. She is just your average teenager, who also happens to be a serious book lover. The Rancho Santa Fe teenager adores books so much that she founded her very own non-profit nearly 3 years ago. Today, Books for Friends is as successful as ever, and continues to donate books to many children in need.
Books for Friends was formed in 2011, when Sarah became isolated at a new elementary school she was attending. “When I was younger, I found myself alone a lot, and when I was reading, books kind of became my friends.”
Sarah found solace in reading, recognizing that books were a source of comfort and escape. She began to think about how children without funds could obtain books. It was at that moment that she decided to launch a book drive for children in need.
In 2012, Sarah’s Books for Friends book drive collected hundreds of gently used books. The books were donated to Promises2Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to the needs of foster children and those affected by child abuse and neglect.
In 2013, a second book drive collected even more books and over $5,000 in donations. This time, the Monarch School in San Diego was the major recipient. The Monarch School’s mission is to educate students who have been impacted by homelessness.
“The children at Monarch School really love to read, so they’re always so happy when we bring the books,” Sarah said. “They’re allowed to take the books with them from school and as a lot of them don’t have electronics, the books are their companions sometimes.”
This year, the book drive awarded each of the inner-city Catholic elementary schools a couple boxes of books for their growing libraries.
Over time, Sarah has expanded her network and encountered more and more individuals and organizations willing to help her cause. Today, Books for Friends is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Books for Friends is a growing non-profit, and anyone can lend a helping hand and get involved! Students who wish to be a part of the cause may became a Books for Friends Student Ambassador. Student Ambassadors raise awareness about these in need and make efforts toward collecting books and donations.
Organizations and educators seeking books for children who are at risk and/or homeless are able to meet with Sarah to discuss book drives and fundraisers.
Student Jacob Brunh has even started his own Books for Friends chapter in Thomasville, Georgia. “I think every child deserves the opportunity to read, and I want to make books even more accessible and approachable in Thomasville.”
Inspired by these young philanthropists? On November 12th, Books for Friends will be hosting a “Friendraiser” from 6:00 to 8:30 PM at the Rancho Santa Fe Inn. Everyone is welcome to come by and learn more about the cause.