While many kids are at the playground, kids like eight-year-old Evan are hooked up to machines that save their lives, but may dampen their spirits. While he is a two-time kidney transplant recipient, and faces multiple congenital challenges, Evan—like many children living with chronic diseases—finds solace in coloring.
On March 23, hundreds of employees from CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer, volunteered for The Crayon Initiative, a California-based nonprofit, by sorting unwanted crayons so they can be melted down, made into new crayons, and donated to hospitalized children like Evan.
The crayon-sorting and recycling event took place on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 700 Horizon Dr. in Hamilton, New Jersey. The Crayon Initiative also melted and created crayons onsite using its custom crayon molds.
“The Crayon Initiative’s altruistic mission very much aligns with our company’s values, and we are excited to partner with them again,” said Volunteer Manager Roger Hancock. “We recognize the importance of giving back to our communities and believe we have a responsibility to support the communities where AAA members live and work.”
Established in 2014, The Crayon Initiative collects discarded crayons from restaurants and other sources, remanufactures them, and provides new packs to hospital pediatric wards. Crayons offer hospitalized children a creative outlet for self-expression, which can help them cope with their illnesses, alleviate feelings of anxiety, and contribute to a sense of normalcy. To date, The Crayon Initiative has donated more than 60,000 packs of crayons to 90 hospitals in 25 states.
According to Bryan Ware, founder of The Crayon Initiative, creating art with specially designed crayons from The Crayon Initiative helps children like Evan take their minds off of medical challenges, and simply enjoy being a kid.
“It’s kind of my favorite thing to do,” Evan said. “I like drawing stuff and being creative. It helps me think about fun things.”
In addition to being repurposed for hospitalized children, unwanted crayons collected by The Crayon Initiative also reduce negative impacts on the environment. Crayons are not biodegradable and create a waxy sludge that may not break down for centuries. To date, The Crayon Initiative has diverted 150,000 pounds of crayons destined for landfills.
“The work we do has a significant impact on local communities,” said Ware. “Our crayon recycling efforts help ensure that children have the tools they need to enjoy the healthful benefits of art and creativity.”