The Crayon Initiative News

Written by Bryan Ware
on February 11, 2022

Michelle is a dedicated donor and volunteer of The Crayon Initiative. Besides her monetary donations, Michelle has volunteered in many capacities for us. She has produced crayons at our production facility, sorted boxes and boxes of crayons, coordinated groups of teen volunteers to assist at our warehouse, as well as helped in the planning of several fundraising events. The Crayon Initiative is honored to have Michelle as a devoted supporter of The Crayon Initiative. Please read her story and learn more about why she is so passionate about The Crayon Initiative.

Tell us a little more about why you support our work. We’re always interested in what motivates our donors to give; you just made a very generous decision—we would really appreciate knowing why.

I have multiple reasons why I love the mission of The Crayon Initiative. First, I graduated with a double major, one being art. Creativity in some form has always been a part of my life. It lets me escape to another place, and with crayons, I believe it helps the patients take their minds off their illness at hand. Second, rather than sending crayons to a landfill, they are repurposed and used again. What a win-win! And most importantly, it doesn't take a lot to make a difference. I love that we can support The Crayon Initiative monthly knowing crayons are being continually sent to children's hospitals that need them.

What motivated you to give on a recurring basis?
The need doesn't stop. The patients need outlets to help them get through the long days.

Why did you first give to The Crayon Initiative?
We started slowly, first sorting, and then our volunteering evolved into other aspects. It was a natural "next step" because we wanted to support their mission in getting the new crayons into sick children's hands.

What interests you most about The Crayon Initiative? Why?
What interests me most is the fact one can be 5 years old or 95 years old, it simply doesn’t matter when it comes to sorting crayons. Anyone can do it. The Crayon Initiative makes it fun. I’ve sorted at the Danville location and during Covid I sorted at home, in both cases contributing to the efforts.  You can either sort with groups at their Danville location, or you can bring them home and still contribute to the efforts. It takes a village to sort the thousands of donated crayons so they are ready to be melted into new ones.

How would you describe our mission? What does it mean to you?
The Crayon Initiative not only saw a need and met it, they also figured out a way to have an environmental impact too.

My mom works for a women's auxiliary that supports Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, so we've been raised with the notion of supporting the needs of sick children. Grandma, too, used to take my children to pick out stuffed animals and toys and then drop them to LPCH to use as needed. TCI became another way to support the same notion and for our family to know their efforts ultimately help sick children stuck in hospital rooms.

What are the most critical results you expect our organization to produce?
To keep production rolling at a steady pace so that boxes of new crayons are continually sent to hospitals who need them to distribute to their patients.

How do you describe The Crayon Initiative to others? What do you say about us?
It's simple, age doesn’t matter, sorting crayons is not rocket science!  It’s done manually but it’s fun because you can sort with friends and family and make it a social event. Music is played, chatting is done, and new friends are made at TCI.

Why does our cause matter to you? Why now in particular?
Specifically, we know four children who had significant illnesses as children and had stays at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. LPCH saved their lives. One example was our grandma's neighbor who was 10 and spent 3 months there. Crayons were an activity he could do to help fight boredom as he was rehabilitating.

How does The Crayon Initiative compare to other nonprofits that you support?
Compared to other nonprofits, The Crayon Initiative is relatable. As a parent, you have empathy for another parent with a sick child. Crayons are something that everyone can appreciate and relate to.

What are you most passionate about? Why?
Having an art background, I'm most passionate about keeping the arts in children's hands and letting them run with their imaginations. I volunteered to teach art in my children's elementary school as it is often one of the subjects that get reduced focus and time.

How would you describe your personal mission?
Knowing how blessed my family is, "giving back" is essential to appreciating our blessings and helping others.

If you could make an impact on the world or effect change, what would you do?
Write a book about having "A Soft Heart and a Strong Backbone." You need to have a soft heart to relate to others and have empathy and compassion. You need to have a strong backbone to stand up for yourself, stand up for what's right, and stand up for others who can't. Maybe a children's book to empower and share these notions would be a starting point for change?

What actions do you think would best cause the change you envision?
Actually, writing, illustrating, and publishing such a children's book.....with TCI crayons of course!  As you're making me think about these questions, I came up with this :)

What would you like to pass on to future generations?
Kindness must be the root.  It's how you treat people, value relationships, and strive to make the best version of yourself that will bring you opportunities and joy. 

How do you feel when you make a gift?
In a word, happy :)

What was your first gift to philanthropy and why? What are your dreams for the community?
I have no idea what my first gift was, but our family has donated thousands of personalized sugar cookies to our community, school, friends, and family for various events over the past 2 years. We support various causes with them as donations.

My dream for our community is for more people to learn about simple missions like The Crayon Initiative and then participate at some level in supporting their causes.