The Crayon Collection was born to bridge a gap that was all too familiar in the United States. Each day news sources were announcing deeper budget cuts in public education resulting in fewer art programs and less supplies. This led to underpaid teachers forced to purchase much-needed classroom supplies by paying an average of $750/year out-of-pocket. It was amazingly sad to hear that classrooms around our country could not provide our children with the most basic of supplies, the crayon.
Simultaneously, we learned that landfills are causing so much damage to our ecosystem and harming the environment. Little could be done to reduce this ever-growing problem. However, we had an idea. What if restaurants around the nation would stop throwing away these precious crayons and change the trajectory of their fate by donating them to a school in their community? The Crayon Collection was born.
In the United States alone, restaurants throw away 150 Million crayons per year. We contacted several large national kid-friendly restaurant chains and asked them to become a Crayon Collection participant. We then trained their operations team on managing the collection of left behind crayons and then we paired the restaurant with a nearby school that is in need of school supplies. This community model proved so simple and effective that we had to take it a step further.
After doing some research we learned that there’s an even bigger number of crayons produced outside of the aforementioned restaurants. 69 BILLION crayons are produced per year. Parents and students who have access to these crayons always share the guilt they feel to toss their crayons after they are no longer needed. So we implemented a similar community model in NON-Title 1 schools who have the resources to host Crayon Collection crayon drives and then donate the collected crayons to nearby schools in need.
This approach proved to be incredibly successful when students took lead of the project. The crayon is such a relatable object that allows them to understand how important it is for all children to have access to this often under valued art tool. Furthermore, it teaches children a wonderful lesson on recycling, reducing and reusing , as well as philanthropy. When the students deliver the collected crayons and experience the response, they are forever touched by the power of their efforts. In fact, we have expanding our reach outside our borders. We are now in Hong Kong, Beijing, Australia and Guam.
After realizing how easily this program can be implemented we approached the National Head Start Association of America, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. By partnering with the NHSA, we have now been able to approach restaurant chains with over 1,000 locations by pairing them with Head Start Centers, who serve 1 million of the most vulnerable children in America. We are thrilled to have formed this new partnership and we look forward to collecting and pairing more restaurants with more schools who are in need of crayons around the country.