Every year we try to align our company with a worthy cause. We’re a small business, so as much as we’d like to be able to give, give, give, that’s not always a reality for us. This year, we got smart and decided to match each book sale we made during the holidays with a book donation to a deserving charity. Enter Cradles to Crayons, an inspired organization that “connects communities of plenty with communities of need.” Launched in Boston, Cradles to Crayons supplies children ages 0 to 12 with the day-to-day essentials they need; the perfect pairing for Three Bean Press’s book drive. We were thrilled to have surpassed our 100-book goal, ultimately donating 126 brand new books to the organization, and we were truly touched when we dropped the books off, spoke with Founder Lynn Margherio and Marketing and Communications Coordinator Liz Farley, and were given the opportunity to see the company’s “Giving Factory” in action.
The Giving Factory is a massive warehouse chock full of gently worn shoes, clothing, blankets, books, car seats and other basic necessities that are essential for every child to feel “safe, warm, ready to learn and valued,” Cradles to Crayons’ mission. And while The Giving Factory seems to be brimming with items that, after going through a five-point check system, head to low-income or homeless children whose parents or social workers have expressed a need, Massachusetts citizens’ demand for these items is so great that The Giving Factory could use far more. This time of year, Liz and Lynn explain that winter boots, hats, mittens, gloves and coats are in high demand, and, sadly, many children require such clothes not only for outdoor use but for the indoors as well, given unheated housing conditions.
We were touched by the commitment, size and scope of The Giving Factory and Cradles to Crayons and its staff. The organization is coming up on its 10-year anniversary and a second branch has been launched in Philadelphia. In the Brighton warehouse, more than 24,000 volunteers come through the doors each year, and they’ve just gained three more in Three Bean Press—actually, five including a five- and eight-year old that will be tagging along, as volunteers can be as young as age five!
The idea for this organization was hatched by Lynn Margherio, when she was visiting relatives. She went to dress her niece and had to rifle through clothes that were too small and still bearing price tags, and she literally tripped over toys to get to the playroom to do a craft with her nephew. She knew that her family’s home was not unusual and was struck by how much excess some households have while others are barely getting by. Cradles to Crayons was born, at first launched out of a small corner of her office, and Lynn became what one board member dubbed a philanthropic “Robin Hood” by creating a resource that transferred surplus items to households just as deserving but bereft.
Last year, Cradles to Crayons helped more than 48,000 children in Massachusetts and has become recognized by social workers, teachers and families as an organization they can count on. It’s a win-win for everyone. More affluent families benefit from actively bettering the communities in which they live and learn, and feel good that the clothes and necessities they’ve purchased don’t go to waste, while the children and parents who receive these donations of clothes, shoes, books, safety items and school supplies have one less worry on their minds, their self-worth buoyed by such a simple act .
Three Bean Press hopes to help this worthy charity more in the future and is excited to be involved with Cradles to Crayons. We’re grateful to all those who bought books to support our book drive in December, and encourage everyone to give as they can. Call 617-779-4700 or visit www.cradlestocrayons.org to find out how you can contribute.