At some point in our lives we all picked up a crayon. At school, home, at a friend’s birthday party,… We all wanted to create something.
The family of Sheila Michail Morovati used to dine at a kid friendly restaurant in their neighborhood several times a week. At the end of every meal, Sheila would guiltily eye four bright, virtually unused crayons, knowing they shouldn’t be tossed in the trash. It’s a fact that billions of crayons are thrown away every year in the USA.
Sheila saw this as an opportunity to create a change and that is exactly what happened. She founded ‘Crayon Collection’, which is a nonprofit organization with basically a simple mission ‘to collect as many crayons as possible and donate them to kids in need.’ They pair participating ‘Crayon Collection’ restaurant chains with local high-poverty Title1 schools. Preschools and elementary schools also hold crayon drives and donate to nearby schools in need.
A wonderful project, which is why I contacted Sheila to know more about ‘Crayon Collection’.
‘Be the change you want to see in the world’
This quote by Mahatma Gandhi is the favorite quote of Sheila. What inspired you to start Crayon Collection?
‘Starting Crayon Collection was a no brainer for me because I just couldn’t stand to see the level waste in the US. This was one area where I knew we could change with a little bit of effort. Teaching children about re-purposing/recycling with the relatable lesson of collecting crayons was another facet that really inspired me to continue our efforts. We feel that experiencing the act of collecting and donating crayons really instills eco-mindedness in our youth that hopefully will parlay into adulthood.’
What were the challenges in starting ‘Crayon Collection’?
‘The challenges in initiating Crayon Collection were mainly getting large restaurant chains to take the plunge in adding one more step to their already busy restaurant operations. What motivates me is seeing that once the restaurants got started it was a perfect synergy of people within a community helping each other. Everyone is excited to participate, both the restaurants and the recipient schools. It seems like every employee at the restaurant knows that their extra efforts in collecting the crayons are really making a difference in a child’s life.’
Crayon Collection is making a difference in children’s lives, but the mission is even more than that.
‘Our mission is really 3 fold and is what sets us apart from all the other crayon initiatives out there:
- Getting art supplies into the hands of kids/schools in need by repurposing crayons within each community in the nation.
- Reducing waste in our landfills. Decomposition of crayons (petroleum-derived) can take years, even decades.
- Teaching our youth a relatable lesson in eco-mindedness that they can hopefully parlay into our future. We learned that student led crayons drives are the most successful ones out there.
Can you tell a bit more about the ‘Crayon Collection’ team?
‘The team at Crayon Collection is made up of a Board of Directors who consists of very capable, like-minded individuals who share the same vision. Jessica Capshaw is a beloved board member who has really been involved from the beginning of Crayon Collection and has generously donated her time to our cause.’
How did the partnership with ‘Hero Of Color City’ start?
“Hero of of Color City” is a wonderful animated film about crayons that is releasing on October 3rd. John Eraklis, the producer loved our mission and thought a PSA would be a great platform for Crayon Collection to raise awareness. They generously animated a PSA for us and provided us with 2 characters to play in the film and the PSA. Duck was Jessica Capshaw’s character, and Ricky the Dragon played by Owen Wilson – who also donated his time and voice for Crayon Collection’s PSA. The PSA will premiere Saturday night August 30th, on Access Hollywood, but will also play at the end of the film as well and will be included in the dvd release as well.
Crayon Collection is part of ‘A Billion Acts of Green’, which is an international movement to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future. One of their highlights was the following “Crayon Collection – 4Million Crayons recycled and donated to students in need”. How important is it to be part of an international movement like ‘A Billion Acts of Green’?
‘When we found out that we were included in a distinguished movement like “A Billion Acts of Green” we felt like we really had arrived at an enormous goal. A large part of our efforts are for the environment and we really wanted that to be in the forefront of our non-profit. We are so happy to say that we have had organizations from Australia and Beijing email us saying that they started crayon collections of their own as well.’
What can we (USA / Worldwide) do to help?
‘Spreading the word is always the best thing for an initiative like ours. We hope that it will inspire someone to start a crayon drive in their school or just leave an empty basket in the main office so that people can have a place to bring their crayons. Almost daily, we hear parents say, ‘I have a huge box of crayons at home that I just felt guilty throwing away. I’m so glad I can do something positive with these now.’ Recently, a mom said to me that her 6 year old daughter stopped their family from leaving the restaurant because she wanted to bring the crayons home to donate to the Crayon Collection. That is what really keeps this mission alive and so strong. It’s stories like that that keep up driving forward and reminding people that EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS.’
If you want to support ‘Crayon Collection’ or know even more about their mission, go to http://www.crayoncollection.org , follow them on twitter, facebook, Instagram!
Thank you Sheila, for taking time to talk about how you are making a change.
Collect, Contribute, Create