The Crayon Initiative: One Man’s Way of Bringing the Rainbow to Sick Children

Every year schools and restaurants throw out 75,000 pounds worth of crayons. He decided to do something about it.

October 2, 2015
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Every year, restaurants and schools throw away perfectly good crayons. One man is putting those discarded crayons to use, though. 

The Crayon Initiative, a non-profit organization founded by Bryan Ware, uses discarded crayons to make new crayons, which are distributed to children at hospitals throughout California.

Ware, a creative dad from Northern California, was eating at a restaurant a few years ago with his wife and kids. He watched as his sons scribbled happily with some crayons. A thought struck him as he watched. 

What happens to those crayons afterward?

Ware asked his server and was disappointed to learn that the crayons at the restaurant were thrown away after customers leave. It seemed like a waste to him, so he started taking crayons with him. That simple act turned into The Crayon Initiative. 

The organization now receives leftover crayons from restaurants, schools, and personal donations. Ware sorts the crayons by color and melts them in his own kitchen. He then uses a special mold, built with the help of an occupational therapist, to form the new crayons. They’re molded a little thicker, so younger kids and those with special needs can grip them better.

So far, The Crayon Initiative has delivered more than 2,000 boxes to California hospitals, and recently Ware made the first deliver out of state, traveling all the way to New York. He hopes The Crayon Initiative can continue to grow and provide kids in a difficult situation with a creative outlet.

“From my perspective, the biggest goal is to give them an escape,” Ware told The Mighty. “I can’t even fathom what these kids are going through. If these crayons give them an escape from that hospital room for ten minutes, we did our job.”

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