Fundraiser to boost Rancho Santa Fe teen’s literacy efforts


By Karen Billing

A Rancho Santa Fe teenager put her love for books and passion for giving back into starting her own non-profit Books for Friends, which seeks to get more literature into the hands of kids who need it most.

Sarah Lackey, a 16-year-old sophomore at Cathedral Catholic High School and a graduate of R. Roger Rowe School, started the organization three years ago and to date has provided more than 8,000 books to homeless and at-risk children.

To help raise money for her cause, Sarah is holding a Books for Friends “friendraiser” from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. There will be a silent auction, nibbles and cocktails. The event is free to attend, although a donation of $25 is suggested.

The idea for Books for Friends came out of Sarah’s challenging experiences growing up.

“When I was a kid in elementary school, I found myself alone a lot and when I was reading, books kind of became my friends and it really helped me,” Sarah said.

“I realized that kids who were less fortunate aren’t able to get the books they needed and I was bothered by that. I knew that books could be a source of comfort.”

With her organization, she has held three book drives for beneficiaries such as the Monarch School for homeless students downtown, inner-city schools and Father Joe’s Village. In the spring, Sarah held a book drive at R. Roger Rowe that brought in 3,218 books and more than $5,000 in donations.

She was able to help fill the shelves at the Monarch School’s new library this summer.

“The kids and I worked together,” Sarah said. “It was really special.”

With financial donations she receives, Sarah visits used book stores, garage sales and shops the bargains to purchase children’s books.

Books for Friends is working on a partnership with the Solana Beach School District

Sarah’s efforts are spreading outside of San Diego. A student named Jacob Bruhn from Georgia inquired about being an ambassador to Books for Friends. Jacob ran a successful book drive in his hometown of Thomasville, and the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce honored him for his efforts.

A student in Northern California, Max Brummer, also contacted Sarah and held a book drive in the Bay Area, collecting more than 1,000 books.

Sarah continues to seek ambassadors from other schools to support the Books for Friends mission. For information or to RSVP for the Nov. 12 event, visit