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Proof Positivity: Cradles to Crayons

President Bill Clinton stated on April 28, 2005, “Today, I had the chance to go by the warehouse and see all those wonderful volunteers and to thank the donoors of materials and the volunteers and also to acknowledge, what is to m,e phenominal that Cradles to Crayons actually distributes these packages through more than 200 social service agencies.”

I interviewed Rhonda Feder, Community Outreach Manager from Cradles to Crayons.



When was cradles to crayons founded?
Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia was founded in 2007 by Jennifer Case. We opened our doors in
June 2007. The organization was originally
founded in the Boston area in 2002.

What is Cradles to Crayons?

Cradles to Crayons is a 501c3 (nonprofit) organization dedicated to providing everyday essentials to children in need. We collect new and gently used clothing, toys, books, shoes, puzzles, games, arts and crafts, school supplies, baby equipment and more through donations at our warehouse and through community drives held throughout the Philadelphia region. We are able to provide so much to so many with the help of the great number of volunteers who work in warehouse throughout the year, and through the generosity of those who donate to us their no longer used items for babies and children, and through individual and corporate donations.

What is the mission for Cradles to Crayons?

Formally, our mission is to provide, free of charge, to children from birth to pre-teen, living in poverty or low income situations, the basic essentials they need to be safe, warm, ready to learn, and to feel valued. We also set a foundation for lasting change through the meaningful, tangible volunteer opportunities we provide to thousands of youth and adults each year. It is often easier to understand our dual mission when we put it like this:

1. We provide to children in need what they need when they need it— and make existing agencies that serve children more effective.

2. We are able to do this efficiently and economically by engaging and mobilizing volunteers of all ages thru schools, companies and communities to encourage everyone to “give back.”

What is The Giving Factory?

The Giving Factory is our warehouse, in Horsham, PA. There is also a Giving Factory in Quincy, MA.

Cradles to Crayons serves both Philadelphia and Boston can you please tell me about the child poverty rate in both of those areas?

Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), a Philadelphia-based children’s welfare advocacy group, reports that 168,718 children in the five-county region in and around Philadelphia are living in poverty. As for Massachusetts, on our website it is reported that almost 500,000 children in Massachusetts live in poor or low income situations, citing the National Center for Children and Poverty.

How is Cradles to Crayons able to help the child poverty rate?

Cradles to Crayons, rather than offering direct service to children, provides essential items for their well being directly to other nonprofit organizations, health centers, schools and others who service children who in need, thereby enabling them to more efficiently serve the children and their families. We fill orders placed on behalf of individual children by their social workers, principals, health care providers and others, providing a reliable resource to those serving children directly. By supporting the basic needs of children, we are enabling other organizations whose mission is to reduce the child poverty rate and serve children in a variety of ways and settings.

How many children do you serve?

So far, we served over 8,400 children! We are receiving and filling more and more orders each week, on average, about 150 orders per week. Each order represents one child.

Do you have any big events you would love to shout out to the world?

Oh yes! Our annual fundraiser, A Family Time to Give, is coming up on November 22, which is also National Family Philanthropy Day. We call this our un-gala fundraiser. Rather than a formal, black tie event, we invite families and the families of corporate sponsors, to spend a day under a heated tent outside our warehouse, in a day of service for the whole family. We re-create our warehouse under the tent, and families inspect and sort clothes and books, test toys, make sure games and puzzles have all their pieces and more. There are special, kid-friendly activities for young children, a band, a delicious lunch, and the joy of spending a day teaching your children the value of community service and giving back. Information about A Family Time to Give, including individual tickets and sponsorship opportunities, are available on our website, http://www.cradlestocrayons.org/. This event is sponsored generously by Bank of America, Comcast, Advanta, Target, Neiman Marcus, Shire and US Airways.

How can the average person get involved?

There are two ongoing ways for individuals and groups, including groups of children, to get involved in Cradles to Crayons. The first is by helping us to collect donated items in the community by hosting a collection drive. This can be done informally among family and friends, in a school or business setting, through a scout troop, sports teams, house of worship, moms’ group, or any other group one may belong to. The pharmaceutical company Shire recently hosted our most successful collection drive to date – it was held over two days at a park near their Chesterbrook corporate offices. As the Community Outreach Manager, I work with individuals and groups interested in hosting a drive, and I provide the kind of support that makes it an easy and rewarding experience for anyone willing to help us! I can be reached via email at Rhonda@cradlestocrayons.org, or by phone at 215-836-0958×207. I am also in need of help from anyone willing to drive to pick up donations, especially those who can make a commitment once a week or twice a month.

The other way to help is by volunteering in our warehouse. Children as young as six years old are welcome (with a parent or guardian). Individuals and groups are welcome, and we often host corporate groups looking to volunteer together or as part of a team building exercise. We have recently hosted groups including Independence Blue Cross, Vanguard, Motorola, Prudential Fox and Roach, Reed Technology, SKF and more. There is always work to be done in our warehouse, and we rely on the time and efforts of our volunteers for much of the work in our warehouse. Volunteers are asked to inspect and sort clothes, make up arts and crafts kids, clean and test toys, pack orders for children, and more. Volunteers are welcome to come in once, but many return on a regular schedule. In addition to our regular hours for volunteers, Tuesday – Friday, 10 AM – 3 PM, we are open Tuesdays and Thursday from 3-5 PM for high school students, and we are open late for working families on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, and two Saturdays each month. We also are always looking for volunteers who can make a commitment for a few hours a week or even a month – we call these our Champion Volunteers! Visit our website to sign up to volunteer at our warehouse.

For you, what is the biggest reward of making a difference in the lives of the children you serve?

The biggest rewards for me are in knowing that we genuinely are children through helping the organizations that directly serve them, and also in helping to set a foundation among children, ALL children, that service is a valuable, important part of life.

Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you for interviewing me!

2006 Video President Clinton video


2 Responses

  1. Your new look is fantastic and I love what you are doing. This particular piece is wonderful. As you showcase all these worthy organizations and people who make such a difference to society, “you” are also making a worthy contribution yourself. Proofpositivity has become a powerful source of information and inspiration. I don’t know how you do it! How do you find the time to research, interview and write such informative posts while still serving as mother, wife and builder? You have an amazing disposition and a glorious spirit. Kudos to PP!!!! and Kudos to you Shirley!!!!

  2. Admittedly, I cheat a little. Twitter has become a wonderful source for me to grab up interviews and to find organizations that I never knew existed, I still keep in contact with City Year and they are affiliated with hundreds of organizations, I recieve press releases, and use stumble to find other positive news sources. I use NewsU http://www.newsu.org/ as a refresher since I can’t go back to college. Since you’re a professor you may want to look into it. It may help your students. It’s an educational site made by people in the journalism industry. I never take anyone’s word as this is the truth and that’s it. I search for more info to back my info.

    Now, the builder thing. I’m impatient about getting our home but I am enjoying so much seeing others get their home. We just went to a dedication this past Saturday and it took everything I had to not cry. I was so happy for her and her home looked gorgeous. They expect next August or September they will begin ours and I can’t help to keep playing in my head “I’ll be home for Christmas.” Oh, and we finally talked my husband into getting a dog next year when we get our home. Boy, that was a mouthful.

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