Children Learning to Help Others; Donating Their Toys and Clothes

January 19, 2012
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Top row, (left to right) East Boston YMCA teacher Mikki Desisto-Falcone, who organized the effort on behalf of the y toddlers and pre-school children, and Karen Lyons-Clauson, director of the East Boston y’s Early Education and Care Center. Also shown is Russ Lamberti, the Administrator for School Age Child Care Programs in East Boston.

Children from the East Boston YMCA’s Toddler/Pre-School Program are learning early about the importance of helping others in need by parting with some of their toys.

Recently, the children at the Y donated their own barely used toys and warm clothing to “Cradles to Crayons”—a  nonprofit in Brighton that provides disadvantaged children with items that children need to flourish.

The Y children then brought the items to Cradles to Crayons and toured the Giving Factory, the place where all donations are stored and bagged for delivery.

“I brought my toys and clothes for the little girl who doesn’t have them like me,” said a Y three-year-old from Eastie.

Last year, Cradles to Crayons provided, free of charge, packages of clothes, shoes, books, toys, baby safety equipment and school supplies to 48,000 children in Massachusetts and the Philadelphia area.

Working in close partnership with social workers at places like the Y, nurses, teachers, and therapists, Cradles to Crayons has become a resource to children and families in need.

The non-profit began in December 2000 by Lynn Margherio after she visited her brother and sister in Michigan.

Margherio, a Boston-based business and public-policy consultant who had recently spent several years in Washington working with the Clinton administration—was helping her niece get dressed one morning and noticed clothes with price tags still on them that her niece had already grown out of.

During that same trip she visited her brother’s house and while working on an arts and crafts project with his kids she saw piles of toys that were hardly played with.

“It looked like our own personal Toys R Us,” she said.

And while there were endless toys to play with she realized that her nieces and nephews gravitated to only a few favorite trucks or games or puzzles or dollhouses.

There were also presents still in wrapping paper that were inside closets,” she said.

At that moment an idea came to Margherio

“I thought what if all of these like-new or never-used children’s things could find their way into the homes of other boys and girls—kids who really needed them,” she said.

Once back in Boston Margherio began taking steps to form her own non-profit. She visited schools and community groups to see if they would be willing collect unused children’s goods.

She then began reaching out to shelters and health centers to see if they had the resources to help families meet basic needs like clothing and if they could benefit from a non-profit that collected these items for them.

She then used some extra space in her consulting office to store donations that she collected in a rented truck from area schools and community centers.

By 2002 the small effort turned into Cradles to Crayons now with a full-blown warehouse in Boston that distributed these goods statewide and to the Philadelphia area.

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