Chemistry Cares: An afternoon volunteering with Cradles to Crayons

Danielle Randall
April 11, 2018

Above photo (from left): The participants of the inagural Chemistey Cares volunteer event: Professor Troy Van Voorhis, Jessica Xu, Danielle Randall, Vera Schroeder, Jessica Weber, Sarah Mear, Rebecca Teixeira, and Nathan Ricke.

On Tuesday, April 3, 2018, a group of MIT Chemistry students, faculty, and staff spent the afternoon volunteering at Cradles to Crayons, a non-profit organization that provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. The organization supplies these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need. Through donations, Cradles to Crayons creates "KidPacks" that are hand-selected with care to meet a local boy or girl’s specific needs and wants. The group accepts donations of a wide range of new and gently-used goods that are appropriate for use by children from newborn through age 12.


A group of students cleans shoes with spray bottles and toothbrushes while wearing rubber gloves.
Jessica Xu, Sarah Mear, Rebecca Teixeira, and Professor Troy Van Voorhis clean and inspect shoe donations.

Cradles to Crayons was founded by Lynn Margherio in 2002, after she noticed, while helping her young niece get dressed, that many pieces of clothing were outgrown - some items still with the tags on them. Since the organization's inception in Boston in 2002, it has grown to serve many additional communites, expanding to Philadelphia in 2006, Chicago in 2016, with two more sites currently in the planning stages.


Students clean and inspect shoe donations.
Vera Schroeder, Jessica Weber, and Nathan Ricke continue the shoe-cleaning assembly line.

Chemistry's cohort of volunteers spent two hours at the Cradles to Crayons warehouse in Brighton, MA, sizing, and cleaning shoe donations to be sorted and distributed among the masses of children in need that the organization serves. In that short timeframe, enough shoes were organized to distribute to 243 children. Combined with two other volunteer groups that worked to sort clothing donations and assemble bags of items, 533 local children will benefit from the effors of this short span.


The Chemistry Cares group cleans and sorts shoes.

The Department of Chemistry hopes to continue its community service iniatives, and foster more opportunities for group volunteer activities in the future.