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IICF Week of Giving: Cradles to Crayons

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Clothing our Kids: Cradles to Crayons and IICF Partner to Provide Essentials for Kids in Need

Cradles to Crayons (C2C) was founded in 2002 to provide children from birth through age 12 with the everyday essentials they need to thrive at home, at school, and at play. The concept was the brainchild of founder and CEO Lynn Margherio, who, while helping her young niece get dressed one day thought: What if the like-new and never-used items she found in her niece’s bedroom drawers could make their way to children who really need them?

Without adequate and appropriate clothing and other basic necessities, children are left to wade through life on an unequal playing field. Through our three-step model of collecting, processing, and distributing items, C2C provides clothing insecure children with the essentials they need, free of charge.

We collect new and gently used children’s items through corporate donations and grassroots community events. These items are brought to our warehouse—The Giving Factory—and processed and packaged by volunteers. Packages from The Giving Factory are then distributed to local children in need of these basic items through our network of Service Partners.

In 2019 alone our community of nearly 18,000 volunteers raised $4 million to serve 63,695 children across Chicagoland.

In 2019 alone our community of nearly 18,000 volunteers raised $4 million to serve 63,695 children across Chicagoland. Volunteers provided more than 30,000 hours of service to help us distribute warm winter gear to children facing the biting Chicago winter. That same year, 25,000 children across Chicagoland were able to start the school year with the tools they needed to learn.

This success is reflected in the responses we receive from our Service Partners. A case manager at Mary Crane Center—a non-profit that provides early care and education programs and services—said, “Cradles to Crayons has helped further our mission by supporting our children and families in need. As we service families that fall under the federal poverty level, many are unable to afford the items that Cradles to Crayons provides. We so appreciate the items that are provided to fulfill a child’s most basic needs.”

Over the past year, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) volunteer efforts with C2C helped us to serve 234,000 children across Chicagoland through a variety of activities, including assembling backpacks with school supplies, hygiene kits, and clothing packs for children. Lack of access to proper clothing is one of the main reasons kids miss school, medical appointments, and social outings leading to significant short and long-term social and economic deficits. IICF’s volunteer and financial support for C2C’s mission allows us to continue providing families experiencing poverty with these essentials and remove undue burdens so they can focus on putting food on the table and paying rent.

The support that IICF will provide through volunteers and donations during this year’s Week of Giving and throughout the year will help C2C reach to more children and families across Chicagoland. C2C serves children and families year-around through our various initiatives, including Gear Up for Winter, Spring Greening, Gear Up for Baby, and Ready for Learning.

It is because of the support of partners like IICF that we can fulfill our vision that one day every child will have the essentials they need to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued. This Week of Giving, we hope you’ll all join us as we work to provide the children of Chicagoland with the essentials they need to thrive—at home, at school, and at play.

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