Annual Initiatives

Helping kids thrive in every season

Young children quickly outgrow their clothes, toys, and books. For families in poverty, this magnifies the challenges parents face as they try to provide for their children. To assist them, Cradles to Crayons provides everyday, essential items throughout the year and also undertakes seasonal initiatives to focus attention and support from donors on specific children’s needs.

Gear Up For Winter

Remember the joy you felt in winter when you were a kid? Bundling up to build a snowman. Wishing for days off from school. Crunching snow mounds with your boots. For families in need, cold winter weather can be debilitating. No child should wait at a bus stop in below-freezing temperatures without warm clothing.

Through our Gear Up for Winter initiative, Cradles to Crayons provides warm winter clothing and outer wear to children whose families struggle to stay warm, even indoors. This program is anchored by our annual Un-Gala, an event when hundreds of volunteers, primarily families, roll up their sleeves to prepare our winter KidPacks. Our goal is to provide the warm items they need before bitter weather creates an emergency.

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Gear Up for Baby

Our year-round Gear Up for Baby initiative focuses on collecting and distributing essential items for infants and toddlers through age three, including: diapers, blankets, bibs, soap, educational toys, car seats and strollers. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of the youngest children we serve as well as to relieve some of the stress on their caregivers.

The cost of diapers, which cannot be bought with governmental aid, is approximately $80 per month per baby.* For struggling families who are living paycheck to paycheck, this is often an insurmountable expense. Yet without diapers, a baby cannot be placed in daycare. Sadly, this is one reason many cash-strapped caregivers choose to quit work or school, often with the long-term result of passing on the cycle of poverty to the babies they love.

We currently receive nearly 15,000 diapers a year for distribution through our membership in the National Diaper Bank Network and from other donations. Donations of diapers in sizes from Newborn through Size 6 are always welcome.


Spring Greening

Our Spring Greening initiative gives a second life to the new and nearly new clothing, shoes, books, and toys tucked away in your kids’ closets and drawers. By placing them in the hands of families and children who truly need them, those who support our work by donating children’s items are also helping our environment by keeping perfectly usable goods out of crowded landfills.

Ready for School

A child needs to be emotionally and physically prepared in order to succeed in school. Many 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.*

To help alleviate the effects of poverty on school readiness, our Ready for School initiative provides local children in low-income and homeless situations with the school supplies they need to be able to participate fully in class and do homework. Anchored by our annual Backpack-A-Thon®, each year hundreds of volunteers, primarily corporate teams, fill tens of thousands of backpacks with age-appropriate school supplies including calculators, pens and pencils, markers, notebooks.

The backpacks, along with KidPacks containing clothing, shoes, and more, are then distributed to kids in need, giving them the tools and confidence they need to arrive at school ready, confident, and excited to learn.