Old crayons are getting a new purpose thanks to one dad and his colorful organization.
The Crayon Initiative, a nonprofit based in Danville, California, collects old crayons and recycles them to make fresh batches, which it then donates to kids in hospitals. The organization, which was founded by Bryan Ware, sent out its first boxes of crayons early this year and since then, about 2,000 boxes have been donated, he told The Huffington Post.
In addition to reducing waste, Ware says that the crayons are meant to provide the kids with some comfort.
“From my perspective, the biggest goal is to give them an escape,” Ware said, according to 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 10 minutes, we did our job.”
The father told HuffPost that the initial idea sprouted from the his own curiosity during a dinner at a restaurant he had a few years ago. Ware, whose kids were coloring with crayons, asked the waitress about what happened to the creative utensils after the meal. When he learned that they'd just be thrown out, he began thinking about how to re-purpose them.
Ware told HuffPost that the organization now receives old crayons from restaurants, schools and other donors. To make the fresh crayons, the old ones are first sorted by color. Afterwards, the utensils are melted down and molded right in Ware's own kitchen.
The initiative's crayons don't look like your traditional crayon. But Ware explains that they're uniquely designed for a reason.
"We worked with an occupational therapist to design the crayons so they are easy for children to hold and so they won't roll off of beds or trays," Ware told ABC7. "We do not wrap them in paper which can hold bacteria and we've had them tested to make sure bacteria from incoming crayons was killed during our processing."
The crayons have made their way to kids at institutions including UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
The children, Ware told HuffPost, light up when they see the new crayons. He said that the utensils help give the kids a fun outlet while they're overcoming their own challenges.
"It may be a brief amount of time, but [it's] something outside their current situation," Ware, who is a big art lover, told ABC7. "For that moment, they can be anyone or anywhere they want to be. It is their creativity that lives within them."
The Crayon Initiative has no plans of stopping its colorful journey anytime soon and later this year, it will make the first out-of-state delivery to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, ABC7 reported.