About Crayons4Kids

It began with a box. . .

The idea started in 2001, when Matt and Emily Leinwand joined their father, then a pediatric surgeon in California, for his weekend rounds in a local hospital.

"As a resident, I never saw my kids, so I invited them along on the weekends," Mike Leinwand, now a surgeon at Bronson Methodist Hospital. "They saw the kids and saw how unhappy they were, and they said 'Daddy, what can we do to make these kids happy?' "

Children who stayed at the hospital needed activities to occupy their time and cheer them up, his two children concluded. They put a cardboard box on their porch and asked family members who visited to bring crayons and coloring books to fill the box.

They were 5 and 6 years old then. Matt and Emily, now 10 and 11 years old, respectively, have become chief executive officers of Crayons 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that distributes toys, games, stuffed animals, and movies to children staying in the hospital.

The fifth-graders' operation has reached children in Kalamazoo, Los Angeles, Boston, and Philadelphia. As of last December, the organization had collected more than 115,000 new crayons, 10,000 coloring books and more than 5,700 games and toys.

"It all started with a little box," Matt said.

-Emily Monacelli, Kalamazoo Gazette

Letters from recipients