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New Life for Old School Supplies

Recycle your crayons, highlighters and markers

      The kids went back to school with fresh supplies. At home, you’ve got rising mountains of leftover markers, highlighters and crayons.

         Cathy Vendryes of Shady Side is collecting those broken bits to send to The Crayon Initiative to be turned into new ones. The new crayons will be put into the hands of children at schools, hospitals, arts programs and other child-focused organizations.

         Vendryes, a part-time nanny and a self-professed “big kid,” found herself with 36 pounds of crayons earlier this summer, after agreeing to take them from a retiring school teacher she met on Craigslist. “I didn’t want to just throw them away, but it was too many for me to realistically give away. So we turned to the internet to find someone who could use them,” she said.

         Vendryes and her husband discovered a collection site in Bowie at an AC Moore craft store. Her next discovery was The Crayon Initiative.

         The Initiative is the brainchild of California father Bryan Ware, who asked a waitress the fate of used crayons. When she said “the trash,” he set about finding a way to repurpose them. So far, the Initiative has created 2,000 new boxes.

         Crayons are sorted, melted down and molded by the organization. The new crayons are designed to be easy to hold and less likely to roll off beds or trays. The paper wrapper is gone, too, eliminating the potential for bacterial buildup.

         In collection boxes from The Initiative founder, Vendryes began collecting crayons at churches, medical offices (including Bay Community Health), restaurants, libraries (including Deale, Edgewater and Eastport-Annapolis-Neck) and schools in Southern Anne Arundel County.

         “But I knew we needed more,” Vendryes said.

         So the couple reached out to local home improvement stores True Value, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowes, and grocery stores such as Giant and Safeway. They were rewarded with a variety of plastic buckets to set up at collection spots. “My brother-in-law is doing his part by eating pretzels so I can have the empty buckets,” she said.

         The Vendryes make rounds to all their collection sites routinely. “I think we currently have about 50 pounds of crayons and maybe five pounds of markers,” she said.

         Vendryes hopes you will give your old supplies a new life by donating them in one of her collection buckets.

         To locate a donation site, contact Vendryes at 410-867-7439 or email [email protected]. For more on The Crayon Initiative, visit www.thecrayoninitiative.org.