Monday, February 17, 2014

Cradles To Crayons Recycles Possible

While visiting the home of her sister during a Christmas vacation, Lynn Margherio was more than happy to help out. So when her young niece needed just the right outfit, she volunteered to dig through through her dresser.

What she found instead was inspiration. Somewhere near the bottom of one drawer, Margherio found some tops and bottoms with price tags still on them. They had never been worn, but it was clear they were already a size too small.

Something similar happened a few days later at her brother's house. She was helping another niece and nephew with an art project in their play room and, very literally, had to step over all their toys to get to the table where the pair were working with glitter, stickers, and markers.

The children, she discovered later, weren't interested in most of it. They tended to gravitate toward a few favorites and always ignored the rest. And it wasn't long after that when these experiences began to merge into one amazingly worthwhile idea.

What if everything we didn't need could find someone who did?

Two years later, Margherio founded Cradles To Crayons, a nonprofit organization in Boston that provides low-income and homeless children (ages 0-12) with essential items they need to thrive at home, school, and play. It provides these essentials by connecting communities that have with communities that have a need.

They accomplish this mission in three different ways, with the first being to collect and temporarily warehouse new and gently-used children’s goods that are donated by individuals, families, and businesses during several drives held by interested community groups.

Once the toys arrive, volunteers inspect, sort, and package all the donations into individualized packages that will be given to children who have specific needs and placed an order through any number of social service agency partners. As soon as the request it met, the partner agency picks up the package and delivers it directly to the child in need.

To date, the organization has hosted some 800 clothing, toy, and school supply drives managed by 24,000 volunteers who delivered 55,000 individual packages to children in need at or through some 300 different social service providers. Best of all, nothing shared is wasted. Everything is cherished.

The organization doesn't just serve the Boston area anymore. It aims to serve more than 305,000 Massachusetts children. But they are not only confined to the Boston area and greater Massachusetts. Cradles To Crayons was duplicated in Philadelphia by Jennifer Case in 2006.

After tapping into the generosity of her friends and neighbors in support of Hurricane Katrina, Case later learned there was a critical need right in her own backyard. Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate among the nation's ten largest cities, which means nearly 130,000 children live in poverty.

A couple more paragraphs about Lynn Margherio.

Lynn Margherio
Margherio wasn't a stranger to community service. As Executive Vice President of the William J. Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative, she had helped launch and build President Clinton’s program to assist countries in the developing world to plan and implement large-scale HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs as part of her 20-year career in business and public policy consulting.

Between this unique operational experience and advising  Fortune 500 companies on growth strategies, competitive positioning, and investment/acquisition opportunities, she understood what it would take. She visited shelters and health centers, asking if they had the resources to help families meet basic needs like clothing and then started calling schools and community groups to see if they would be willing to collect these badly needed goods.

The reaction was uniformly positive. So Margherio commandeered some extra office space at the consulting firm where she was a partner, lined the space with shelving and plastic bins from Home Depot, and started going from school to school in a rented truck to collect other people's stuff. Today, Cradles To Crayons has its own warehouse.

Cradles To Crayons Is A Liquid Hip Good Will Pick.

At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.

We chose Cradles To Crayons for two reasons. Not only does the nonprofit organization inspire communities that have to help those communities that have a need, but the model has also been successfully duplicated in a second city. It would be an amazing story to see another Cradles To Crayons open too.

In the interim, you can help either Cradles To Crayons program in a number of ways. If you live in Boston, you can donate your new and lightly used items for children or volunteer. And if that isn't possible because you live someone else, you can always send gifts too. Or, to help support children in Philadelphia, you can learn more here. Both C2C locations welcome corporate engagement too.
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