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Catarina Costa loves to read. She feels so passionate about it that she has made it her mission to get books in the hands of children who might otherwise not have access to them.

Catarina, age 13, participates in pageants and chose book distribution as her pageant platform. She is a rising eighth grader and lives in Spartanburg with her parents, Joe and Kathryn Costa, and her brother, Nathan.

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“She started her platform four years ago, when she was Little Miss Spartanburg County,” Kathryn Costa said.

Catarina began collecting books and soliciting book donations for her project, Bee Buzzingly Bright with Books, which she hopes to turn into a nonprofit organization soon. She maintains several Little Free Libraries and donates books to community centers and other organizations, as well as the children’s hospitals at Greenville Health System and Palmetto Richland.

“To date, she’s donated a little over 4,500 books in Greenville County, Spartanburg County and in the Columbia area,” her mother said.

At the Middle Tyger Community Center, Catarina donates books and shares her love of reading.

“She has a reading buddy program that she has established with their day care,” Kathryn Costa said. “She goes in and reads with them once a week.”

For her efforts, she was recognized as a winner of one of the 2017 Outstanding Youth Awards presented to South Carolina students.

Catarina said she caught the reading bug early.

“My grandmother used to read to me when I was a little girl, right before I went to bed, and that’s what started my love of reading,” she said.

Catarina is well versed on the difference it can make when children have access to books and how it can have a lifelong impact. She is planning to enroll in Spartanburg’s Scholars Academy, a high school program at USC Upstate, and then go on to college to study psychology. Though she can’t get enough of reading, she says it isn’t possible to choose a favorite book.

“I’m not picky about what I like to read,” she said.

Catarina is participating in a national pageant this summer, and with each pageant, the project grows. It has surpassed any expectations she had, and that delights her.

“It makes me so happy that other people know about it and want to help me out,” she said.

Catarina accepts new and used children’s books for Bee Buzzingly Bright with Books.

For more information, email Kathryn Costa at katbirdfl@gmail.com.

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