TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A stuffed animal, book and letter.
Those are the simple but meaningful ingredients of bags packed with love by 15-year-old Hannah Castonguay.
"When I give this, I want people to know why," she said.
Castonguay, Miss Pima County Teen 2019, lives by the motto “read early, read regularly.”
To promote it, she took steps to help families by making reading a priority.
She donates her “Book Buddies” to shelters around Pima County.
On Friday, she tried to take it national.
Turning to the Red Cross for help, she shipped off 14 bags to kids around the country,who may have lost everything in a disaster.
“They can get it farther than I can right now,” she said of the Red Cross. Her goal is to get books into kids’ hands, everywhere.
“I don’t want anyone else to go through what I had to,” she said. Castonguay didn’t always excel at reading and was held back in the second grade.
“I could not pass the reading test,” she said. “Couldn’t read as fast as I was supposed to at that age.”
That’s why she hopes when kids open these bags of books and stuffed animals; they know they have a buddy in Hannah.
“They feel love from other people,” she said. “There’s a future for you.”
Hannah started her ‘Book Buddies’ program at the beginning of the year. She said she hopes it continues to grow so that families know and understand the importance of reading.