On a day off from school, five Saratoga Springs High School students aren’t off enjoying a much-needed break. Instead, they’re crowded around a dining room table organizing donated books.

“I knew our community was really generous but I didn’t know they would be quite as generous as they have been,” says junior Ciara Meyer.

Meyer is the president of Stories for Success, an organization the group started in 2019. The students collect donated books and purchase new ones to give to new parents at Saratoga Hospital. The idea is for new parents to take them home and use them to start reading to their children.

“There’s been so many studies that show that kids do so much better in school if they’re read to as a baby,” says Anabelle Brueggemann, the director of volunteers.

Meyer and Brueggemann founded the group with Maddie Cook, the chief financial officer; Ava Kuruzovich, director of events; and Mia Hayes, director of marketing. All five are juniors in high school.

“Obviously, we want the kids in our community to be as successful as they can,” says Kuruzovich.

Each “book bag” includes two books for the parents. Stories for Success dropped off its first set of bags earlier this year and so far, they have provided more than 1,600 books to parents at Saratoga Hospital.

The next step is filling out the paperwork to become a 501(c)3, something they’re researching mostly on their own.

“It will open up a lot of opportunities for us, because once you’re a registered 501(c)3, a lot of things open up like grants and stuff like that, so that will be really exciting,” says Hayes.

Each book bag also includes information on how to register for a library card and a list of recommended books for young children. The hope is to continue to grow the organization, fostering literacy for years to come.