Former Rowe student returns to Rancho Santa Fe to lead successful book drive


By Karen Billing

Sarah Lackey, a 15-year-old graduate of R. Roger Rowe School, is truly “kind to the core.” The freshman at Cathedral Catholic High School returned to her former school this year to lead a book drive for at-risk and homeless children through her own nonprofit, Books for Friends.

The huge haul of over 1,000 books will benefit the Monarch School for homeless children. The book drive’s success far exceeded Sarah’s expectations and she was so grateful for Rancho Santa Fe students’ and parents’ generosity in giving new and gently read books.

“I really love the cause that it’s going to,” said Sarah recently, dwarfed by the tons of boxes and bags of books ready to be delivered.

Before heading to high school, Sarah spent two years on the student council at Rowe and led two successful book drives benefiting Monarch School, as well as Promises2Kids, an organization that supports foster children. In the last two years she’s collected over 3,000 books and also raised $4,000 for the organizations, her donations doubled by the Philanthropy Club of Rancho Santa Fe.

Sarah was also last year’s “Student of the Year” at Rowe and Superintendent Lindy Delaney said it comes as no surprise that Sarah has taken the initiative to start her nonprofit, especially after being instrumental in launching the community service program at the school last year, now called Kind to the Core.

“Sarah is a straight-A student and is just one of those people you know will go far in life because she is willing to take a risk and lead and do what’s right for others,” Delaney said.

Sarah said she has always been very passionate about reading and books so the mission of her nonprofit comes naturally — to make books available for children in need as a means of providing hope, comfort and inspiration.

“When I was younger, I found myself alone a lot and when I was reading, books kind of became my friends,” Sarah said. “I knew less fortunate children aren’t able to buy books and I was bothered by that.”

Putting books into the hands of at-risk students is extremely rewarding, she said.

“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.”

For her fledgling nonprofit, Sarah is already planning an event this fall at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The Nov. 5 fundraiser will help raise money for even more books.

Sarah is also seeking ambassadors from other area schools to support the Books for Friends mission. For more information, visit