KALAMAZOO (WKZO) – At the ages of 5 and 6 years old, Matt and Emily Leinwand just wanted to make a difference. The brother and sister team created Crayons 4 Kids, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to brightening the lives of the country’s youngest patients. Crayons 4 Kids delivers crayons, coloring books, stuffed animals, and much more to local hospitals.

The idea was born when the pair accompanied their father, Dr. Michael Leinwand, to the hospital during one of his weekend rounds in the pediatric surgery unit at the University of Southern California Medical Center. The strongest memory that stuck with the young siblings was the despair on the faces of the young kids stuck in the hospital.

“We wanted to make their situation better. It all started with one box,” said Matt Leinwand, now 17 years old.

Crayons 4 Kids started in 2001 as a donation box on their front door.

“Pretty soon the mailman started getting involved, and then schools and churches started donating. It’s become a huge thing because of them,” said Leinwand. 

The impact of Crayons 4 Kids has reached all 50 states. Deliveries of over 400,000 crayons, over 30,000 coloring books, and 23,000 new toys have been made to Children’s Hospitals all over the United States. The group recently delivered 400 DVD’s and three IPad’s to Bronson Children’s Hospital thanks to donations they have received.

“We want to reach as many children as possible, but most of what we collect stays local,” said Leinwand.

The Leinwand’s have moved many times thanks in part to their father’s job. They’re quick to point out no matter where they are their mission wouldn’t be possible without the community’s support. Boatyard Brewery has joined forces with Crayons 4 Kids helping them continue to make in impact in the Kalamazoo community.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than taking all the donations into the hospital on Christmas Day, and making a kid who is in the hospital feel a little bit better,” said 18 year old Emily Leinwand.

Crayons 4 Kids will be walking in the 2013 Kalamazoo Holiday Parade. As part of their new partnership, Boatyard Brewery is hosting an event after the parade with the tips benefitting Crayons 4 Kids. For more information visit Crayons4Kids.org.