Student leads 'Crayon Initiative' at Covenant School

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Shades of blue, red, pink and more fill a big cardboard box at Covenant School. The school is the first in the Charlottesville area to adopt the Crayon Initiative.

Students are donating broken or used crayons, which are shipped to California to be sorted, melted down, and remolded into brand new crayons. Then, they're shipped back to Virginia and donated to the University of Virginia Children's Hospital.

"When we have 100 patients a day, we go through a lot of crayons," said Ryan Lightner with the UVA Children's Hospital.

Before the initiative was started, the hospital had to frequently purchase its own crayons. Things have now changed, thanks to 11-year-old Avery Paladino, who is leading the Crayon Initiative at Covenant.

"I think it's important for kids in hospitals to escape from their sadness and stress," said Paladino.

She knows personally the sadness and stress both patients and their families are going through. Two years ago, her brother was diagnosed with brain cancer.

"It was terrifying," said Paladino. "I always thought he would be alright in the end but he wasn't. He sadly passed away, but we spent a lot of time at St. Jude's and UVA trying to cure him."

Paladino says she spent countless days in the hospital and coloring became her passion.

"While I was waiting in the waiting rooms or just hanging out with my brother, I would color a lot," said Paladino. "That personally helped me a lot."

"They're going through all these tests and procedures, and they might not feel normal," said Ryan Lightner, UVA Children's Hospital's associate director of development and coordinator of the Children's Medical Network Program. "So sitting down with their friends and family that are visiting makes them feel a little bit normal again."

Coloring and collecting crayons has become Paladino's therapeutic release that she now pays forward to others.

She's donated 164 pounds of crayons in just one year, drawing in other kids and now 40 area schools, proving one child's trash is another child's treasure.

The next crayon delivery to the UVA Children's Hospital will be in February.



 
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