The pen may be mightier than the sword but don’t underestimate the power of the crayon. Environmental awareness, art education, and social change are just three major lessons you can teach youngsters by helping them start collection drives for their second-hand Crayolas and then getting them into the hands of those in need.

To celebrate National Crayon Day, check out these three non-profits that will have you and your mini Good Samaritans thinking beyond the coloring book.

photo: Ryan via flickr

Crazy Crayons
Mail in your broken, unloved violets, carnation pinks, and burnt siennas here (P.O. Box 683, Lake City, CO 81235) and they will be re-crafted into adorable coloring stars, sticks, worms and more. All proceeds benefit the Crayon Recycle Program, which has been spreading the gospel of the Three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) since 1993. To date, the grassroots educational organization has kept over 105,000 pounds of wax sludge (yuck!) out of landfills with help from earth-minded kiddos, educators and community leaders all over the country.

Insider tip: Sorting is fun but not necessary. Just keep the wrappers on, please!


photo: Bryan Ware

The Crayon Initiative
Daddy, where do all the restaurant crayons go? That head-scratcher combined with a passion for creative expression and art therapy led founder Bryan Ware to start The Crayon Initiative. The non-profit remanufactures rescued crayons then donates them to children’s hospitals. If you’ve got a little Florence Nightingale in your midst, it couldn’t be easier for them to help young patients find relief through drawing. They’ll even mail you a box if you need one.  

Insider tip: Get your favorite family-friendly eateries on board by leaving one of these cards behind after the meal.



Crayon Collection
Calling all future philanthropists. In addition to other major partnerships like Denny’s Restaurants, this do-gooder organization joined forces with the National Head Start Association, which provides health and education services to the country’s most vulnerable children. Founder Sheila Morovati was shocked by the math: teachers in underfunded public schools spend upwards of $750 of their own money to provide students with basic school supplies while millions of perfectly good crayons are trashed daily. With a grown-up’s assistance, kiddos can choose a nearby school then coordinate a crayon drop-off, so they can see for themselves where their gently used crayons are going.  Bonus: besides a whole bunch of warm fuzzy feelings, they’ll start to notice and appreciate the things they take for granted.

Insider tip: Don’t overlook the excellent educational and art project curriculum created with the organization’s artist and educator partners here.


How do you recycle your crayons? Share your tip in the comments below!

— Andrea Arria-Devoe


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