- Associated Press - Saturday, June 16, 2018

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The towering mound of crayons stood in boxes on a scale, taller than some of the students that donated them. The scale was borrowed from the nurse’s office because the classroom ones were too small to get the job done.

Tarrallton Elementary School Principal Dan White carefully slid the scale’s bars until they settled on the final number: 102 pounds of crayons.

When told the final number, some first-graders nearby were amazed.

“If we were all on that scale, we’d be 102 pounds,” 7-year-old Abigail Hadsell said.

The crayons came from all walks of life: broken and weathered, newer and shiny. Some were brought in from home, and many were collected from classrooms as an end-of-year project that doubled as cleaning before summer break. But instead of being thrown in the trash, they were headed to a new life: the Crayon Initiative.

The initiative collects donated crayons, melts them into new ones and sends them to children staying in hospitals across the country, including Norfolk’s Children Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

Tarrallton parent Meredith Martz came up with the idea for the school to participate. She said she read online last summer that the craft store A.C. Moore partnered with the Crayon Initiative to be a collection point. Martz approached White with the idea this spring and he agreed it would be a good activity for the kids.

Martz plans to take the 102-pound haul to A.C. Moore this weekend, then it will be shipped out to the Crayon Initiative in California.

White said the collection allowed students to see firsthand how they can contribute to the community.

For the past three weeks, the students have gotten to see their contributions grow. And teachers used the process to impart lessons, with first-graders learning about recycling.

“We want to help the environment,” said Torren Mitchell, 7. “If you have broken crayons, then all you have is broken crayons.”

As the students have learned, broken crayons don’t have to be sent to clog up landfills. Roughly 60 million are thrown out every year, according to the Crayon Initiative website.

“We along with restaurants are some of the most opportune areas to collect crayons, especially since we’re near the end of the school year,” White said.

Mya Tate, 7, said she was happy and excited about how many crayons there were. Austin Martz, 7, Meredith Martz’s son, remarked that 102 pounds was a lot.

A 25-pound box of used crayons can supply 125 children with an eight-count pack of new ones, according to the Crayon Initiative. So 102 pounds should yield enough for 510 children.

Fifth-grader Leslie Bello, 11, said it “melts her heart” to know that many crayons were collected.

“I like to know that there are so many people who want to help kids at the hospital,” she said. “It feels good that I can actually do something to help.”

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