The Crayon Initiative News

Written by Bryan
on December 19, 2023

Today, we share a truly inspiring story from Joshua Wu, whose life was touched by The Crayon Initiative during a challenging time. As a child, Joshua found himself hospitalized with Juvenile Arthritis, a time filled with discomfort and uncertainty. Amidst this, a simple gesture changed everything – the gift of crayons from The Crayon Initiative.

Below is Joshua's heartfelt letter, a testament to the impact of The Crayon Initiative:

July 28, 2023

Joshus Wu
Dear Mr. Ware,

Sitting at my desk is an eight year old blue Tupperware container, filled to
the brim with well-used old crayons of many colors I collected back in second grade
including several with unusual shapes.

Occasionally, the iconic ‘pop’ of that Tupperware container opening sends me
back down memory lane. The waxy sweet odor of coloring crayons transports me back
to my younger days--the days of sketching stick figures with two tiny lines for eyes or the bright yellow sun in the corner of the paper, smiling down at everything and everyone below. The pentangonal houses and broccoli-shaped trees remind me of a time when much of my life was filled with nothing more than endless drawings using well-used
crayons and dull colored pencils. Then, at age seven, I found myself lying in a hospital
bed at Oakland Kaiser Hospital after being diagnosed with and treated for Juvenile

Once hospitalized, that Tupperware container staying in a dark cabinet at home,
unused, unloved, and nearly forgotten. I didn’t think it would ever see the light of day
again, but there it was, waiting patiently for me, perhaps hoping to be opened and its
contents used once again. Lying on a hospital bed with nowhere to go and nothing to do, the most I could do was stare endlessly at the blue ceiling above when I was awake and in pain. My only escape was sleep. I was twenty-eight miles away from home and thinking
about my Tupperware box of crayons, wondering if I would ever be able to use them

I looked at the immobile hands by my side, swollen, stinging with any movement.
Then one day a nurse walked into my room carrying a white drawing pad and a small
package of large triangular crayons from a place called The Crayon Initiative.
Peeling the brightly colored cardboard box open, the nostalgic smell of waxy
crayons transported me back to former times. I wished I never had this ugly thing called Juvenile Arthritis, causing me suffering and misery through no fault of my own.

Seeing the drawing pad and the box of crayons in front of me seemed to release a carefree, happy spirit within me, and my imagination began to run wild. A remnant of my former self was awakened and released by opening that small cardboard color crayon box.

As the days went by and my treatment continued, the Juvenile Arthritis slowly
improved. My hands moved in increments a little bit more each day. Over time, my
former small colored sketches of circles and squares eventually became vast murals and
paintings on my white paper tablet.

Four years have passed since my time in the hospital. Sitting at home one day, I
received a notification ‘ping’ that appeared at the top of my phone screen. Opening up the
notification, it said:

“Hi Josh, I saw this cool volunteering thing with GLIFY (Global Leadership Initiatives
for Youth). It’s about sorting some used crayons where they eventually melt old crayons
down to make new ones to send to sick kids in hospitals. It’s called The Crayon

My eyes locked onto the screen and froze! Now nearly every month, Mom brings
a new box of old, unsorted crayons into our home. Opening up each box brings back the
nostalgic memories and smells that I’ve grown to love. Whether it be sorting through
boxes of crayons or feeling the warmth of newly minted crayons being removed from the
crayon molds at The Crayon Initiative, nothing will ever compare to the life-changing set
of crayons I received all those years ago at the Oakland Kaiser Hospital.

Even given the opportunity to be able to participate in melting and molding the
crayons in person, I have become thoroughly engaged, and learned about this special process that helped me through the toughest of times in my life.

Unfortunately, my time for volunteering at The Crayon Initiative has sadly come
to an end because I will be returning to school in about a week. I wonder which children will receive the crayons I helped make during their stays in hospitals. I sincerely hope
those crayons will change their lives like the ones I received so long ago changed mine!
I will never forget the box of crayons I received from The Crayon Initiative.

Putting those soft triangular-shaped crayons on top of my favorite crayons in the old blue
Tupperware container, I will continue to cherish them in my heart and mind. They will
forever act as a reminder of the resilient and imaginative child that still resides within me.


Joshua Wu

Joshua's experience underscores the profound impact a small act of kindness can have. It's a reminder of why we do what we do at The Crayon Initiative – to bring smiles and moments of creative joy to children in hospitals.

Let Joshua's story inspire you to support our cause. Together, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of many more children like Joshua.