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In the United States, the burdens of poverty fall heaviest upon the youngest. Nationwide the poverty level is 14.8 percent. But 22 percent of all children, just over sixteen million girls and boys, live below the poverty line.
The goal of the nonprofit Cradles to Crayons is to help alleviate the hardships of poverty. As it states on their website, Cradles to Crayons aim to provide those children living below the poverty line with “the essentials that they need to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued.”
The seed that would one day bloom into Cradles to Crayons first took root in December 2000. Lynn Margherio, a Boston native, was visiting family in Michigan. While spending time with her brother and sister and their families, she noticed that several pieces of clothing and certain toys were rarely, if ever, used by nieces and nephew. It was at this time that she thought there must be a way to get these extra or unused items to children that really did need them. On her return to Boston, she consulted with shelters and health centers about the basics that families needed. Shortly after she reached out to local schools and community centers and, began to organize drives for children’s goods and collect them in a rented truck.
Out of her initial impulse of goodwill, Lynn’s vision gained support and momentum. As a result, Cradles to Crayons was formally founded in 2002. Since then, the organization has provided packages of clothing, shoes, books, toys, and school supplies to thousands of children in the Boston area. A second Cradles to Crayons operation was launched in Philadelphia in 2006, and a third will soon begin in Chicago. It has become a trusted resource for families in need, and will continue its work of providing those basics for those most vulnerable to the deleterious effects of poverty.