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Long Island teens launch Books for Babies, nonprofit to promote literacy

Chaminade High School junior Nicholas Donatelli, left, and

Chaminade High School junior Nicholas Donatelli, left, and Our Lady of Mercy Academy sophomore Catarina Chelius have started a nonprofit called Books for Babies. Credit: Donatelli Family

Two Long Island teens have launched a nonprofit based on their love of reading.

Nicholas Donatelli of Huntington and Catarina Chelius of Northport recently started Books for Babies, a nonprofit that seeks to promote literacy among babies and toddlers. Donatelli is a junior at Chaminade High School in Mineola, and Chelius is a sophomore at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset.

They have set up about 10 boxes throughout Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn to collect new and gently used children’s books. They have collected more than 1,000 books since the summer.

“Reading at a young age has such positive effects on the lives of children, and I believe it is our responsibility to nurture this as they grow,” said Donatelli, 16.

After collecting the books, Donatelli and Chelius package them in tote bags featuring the nonprofit’s logo and deliver them to such places as homeless shelters, orphanages and soup kitchens.

The teens are also hosting a “Book Raiser” event at Lucky to Live Here Realty in Cold Spring Harbor on Nov. 8. The free event will feature food and wine samplings, raffles and activities ranging from psychic readings to makeovers and manicures.

“We feel that helping others should be an important part of everyone’s life,” Chelius, 15, said. “Since we both go to Catholic school, corporal works of mercy are a priority,” Cheliu, referring to the Catholic tenet of charitable work that helps to provide for bodily needs.


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