Anyone who has regularly taken a child to a restaurant knows that restaurants go through a lot of crayons. Typically, each child is given an activity booklet and a few crayons to play with while they wait on their food, and at the end of the meal, these crayons end up being left on the table and thrown out by the restaurant. One father decided to collect all of these used up crayons and turn them into a charitable project.
Bryan Ware first got the idea to start his charity, The Crayon Initiative, after he realized that most restaurants went through thousands of crayons. Ware said that the restaurant told him “they had to throw them away after it’s been on the table. So that to me was just kind of a spark. There’s got to be something we could do with them.” Ware started collecting the used crayons to give to hospitals.
Ware begins each new batch of donated crayons by going around to restaurants and collecting buckets of old crayons. These old, broken, worn down crayon stubs are sorted by hand into piles of different colors. Ware then melts down each batch of crayon colors in his kitchen. Using common kitchen tools on his kitchen stove, crayons are melted down and the papers and any other debris are strained out of the melted wax. The melted wax is then poured into molds, and the wax hardens to form brand new crayons.
Though the Crayon Initiative started out small, it has grown to include hundreds of volunteers. These volunteers help Ware by collecting crayons, sorting them, and putting them into new packages before they are delivered to the hospital. This innovative charity turns leftovers into new crayons with a sturdy design that can easily be gripped by sick children. Currently, over 500 pounds of used crayons are collected each week by Ware and his volunteers.
The recipients of Ware’s crayons are hospitals that cannot afford to provide entertainment for the sick children. Since restaurants would otherwise waste the crayons, the Crayon Initiative allows hospitals to make sure that children have the opportunity to color while they heal. Ware says that he is passionate about the Crayon Initiative because “it provides [sick children] the ability to be whatever they want to be…That right there is why we do this.”