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Annual Initiatives

Helping kids thrive in every season

Poverty is a year-round condition. Young children outgrow essentials like clothes, toys, and books pretty quickly. Our mission at Cradles to Crayons isn’t based on a “one and done” philosophy. We undertake four major initiatives each year to serve kids and families all year long.

Gear Up for Winter

Remember the glory of wintertime as a kid? Bundling up to build a snowman. Wishing for days off from school. Crunching snow mounds with your boots.

For families in need, however, a Chicago winter can be debilitating. No child should have to wait at the bus stop in below-freezing temperatures without warm clothing.

Our Gear Up for Winter program supplies warm winter gear to children whose families struggle just to stay warm. This program includes our signature volunteer event, the annual Un-Gala®, which helps to prepare kids for winter before it becomes an emergency.

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Spring Greening

Children grow throughout the year — in every season. For families who struggle to make ends meet, it can be hard to keep up with these growth spurts.

Our Spring Greening initiative gives a second life to the new and nearly new clothing and goods tucked away in your kids’ closets and drawers by placing them in the hands of families and children who truly need them. The environment benefits as well because we are keeping perfectly usable goods out of already crowded landfills.

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Gear Up for Baby

Cradles to Crayons’ Gear Up for Baby initiative aims to serve expecting mothers and caregivers with the basic essentials that every newborn needs: diapers, baby wipes, baby soap, and more. Diapers are one of the most crucial parts of dressing a young child from head to toe. But many families lack the resources to afford the high cost of diapers, making diaper-need a daily reality for too many families across the United States.

Through our Gear Up for Baby program, we highlight diaper-need with a series of events and opportunities for companies, individuals, and families to give back during the summer months.

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Ready for Learning 

A child must be emotionally and materially prepared to succeed in school. But in Chicago, 1 in 2 children are at risk of experiencing clothing insecurity. Many of these children lack the tools they need to translate their knowledge and creativity into confidence and academic success. In fact, by age four, children living below the poverty line are already 18 months behind their peers.*

Our Ready for Learning initiative empowers children to feel safe, valued, and ready to learn. The initiative ensures that 60,000 kids have everything they need for school this fall by distributing critical learning supplies through our network of social service partners.   

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